Good writing draws us in through relatable, layered characters. Even when those characters are experiencing things we’ve never had to endure, we connect to them through shared emotions. In all likelihood, you’re encountering a variety of emotions as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds. Whether you’re dealing with new feelings or stronger versions of familiar ones, it may be cathartic to journal about your inner thoughts and reflections. Then, when you find yourself writing about a character who is experiencing negative emotions like fear, anxiety or isolation, or positive ones like gratitude, solidarity or generosity, you can return to those journals for inspiration. Even if your characters aren’t facing the same situations that evoked the emotions within you, they can inform your writing as you infuse your characters with an authentic heart.
This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving – a day when families gather together and carry on long-held traditions. As you work on your manuscript, decide how family traditions, or the lack of them, will shape each of your characters.
The more writers can put themselves into the shoes of the people populating their stories, the more authentic the characters will be to the reader. This week, try writing a scene from a POV other than your protagonist’s. Even if your novel is going to be single POV, the exercise will deepen your understanding of the supporting cast in your story, which will translate into more rounded and believable characters on the page.
Before you sit down to write your scene, list the characters in the scene and write out their individual goals. Even if you never state those motivations in the prose, knowing them will help you write more authentic character interactions and add complexity and richness to your story.
Over the past 2 months you’ve gone further into your characters’ backstories. Now that you know more about your characters’ backstories, make sure their motivations in the beginning of the story you’re writing are consistent with their pasts.