“I have never told you.” Five words that can deepen your characters, add page-turning plot elements, and shed light on motivation.
When I talk to my characters (and yes, I do this frequently–it’s a relationship that must be maintained), I’m gratified when they talk back. And they will, if you know what to ask them.
- Go to a quiet place where you can concentrate.
- Open your story journal. Don’t have one? Use a notebook, or a Word file, or a Scrivener page.
- Summon up the character from whom you need answers.
- Begin the journal entry “I have never told you, but…” and allow the character to speak. Don’t write about the character–“Marigold is angry with her aunt”–write as the character–I am angry with Aunt Joy. So angry. When she talked about Mike in her nasty way, calling him a “slick, know-it-all peacock,” I nearly walked out. All right, I DID walk out. And I took her dog with me.
- Don’t worry that you must include what you learn in the story. You may, or you may not. And what your character says may shift and change as they talk–as did Marigold’s decision to walk out.
You’ll be amazed by what this technique brings forth. In our upcoming Cultivating Complex Characters class, you’ll learn how to make your characters nuanced, believable, and fascinating to the reader.
Here’s what students are saying:
“Katherine is fun and encouraging—she made the class a pleasure.”
The motivation, goal-setting really helped me produce and move forward in my work. It really helps to be in an environment that is conducive to the writing process.”