26 August 2011

An author's take on characterization-Moondancer Drake


To me the people, the characters, are the heart and soul of the story. If I don't care about the characters I am reading about, the story itself cannot hope to hold my interest. Maybe this is why when I'm writing, the characters are the first thing I consider, in fact generally they are introducing themselves to me before I've even thought about writing a story.

I write about strong women, largely because those are the characters and the women that drew my attention growing up most. Women like Uhura from Star Trek, Rita Moreno on the Electric Company, Whoopi Goldberg and everything she ever did (including Guinen, be still my heart), and later on of course Xena. There have been many strong women throughout my life that taught me, that inspired me, and even impassioned me to do the activist work that I do, and to write the stories I write. Many of these women live on in part within the characters that spearhead my stories.

Characters come to me in very many ways, sometimes she’s some woman I meet that strikes me in some way, a picture I find, that sparks an idea, or even most often in dreams. These women take over my thoughts, complicating things often in the middle of writing some other story, and it's up to me to get to know them. For example…

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This is Sage. This character began for me simply from running across this picture on the Internet. Slowly, who she was unfolded into what was supposed to be a secondary character in a YA story, now is destined to have a paranormal adventure romance of her own. She's a mother, a lesbian, an artist, and a craftswoman. She's been hurt, but is strong and does what she has to do for her family and for the people that depend on her. For many people she is the rock of the community. You see, all this and more just from a picture.

Characters touch people, shared experiences, familiar ideas for backgrounds, admiration and often times sympathy, these are the things that draw the reader into the story, then grab the imagination into the reader has no choice but to finish the story, they just have to know what happens this character they care about. I'm not missing everybody writes with this much energy into creating characters like these, but this is why I do it.
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