Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I made another must-do list for the things I let get behind and spent all morning carrying them out. A lot of little tasks, but a mini break from writing. I actually got outside to walk to the post office and stop at the local Starbucks to get a refill on ground coffee.

Then I watched TV (kinda hard not to now) as I went through my character sketches. I wanted to go through each character and revise to fit what they had become and what new habits that had come about in the story. I tend to get very detailed in my character sketches. I include background information like who their parents were, what they did and where they came from. Who their brothers and sisters are. I outline the usual physical attributes (height, weight, shape, hair/eye color, imperfections, age, birthday, sign, etc.) as well as their personality and preferences (personality traits, habits, musical tastes, hobbies, books they read, etc.). Other stuff like marital status, education, employment history, any funny little quirks they have or phrases they use.. I also sketch their issue in this story, their perspective, their goals and desires, their greatest fears, and their motivations. Then I sum it all up around the current issue by writing a paragraph on their upbringing and how that affects their issues in this story.

So, I fill out this form for all the main characters (Excel spreadsheet). I also do a sketch on the minor characters, but not nearly to this detail. Then, as I'm writing in each chapter, for the characters in the scene, I constantly review their characters sketch to see how they react, what they might say, how they feel about whatever it is that's going on, how they try to come across and how they actually come across, etc. I only have to keep referring to the sketches in the first few chapters. It seems like after that, they come so alive that they just do what they do.

In addition to all of this, I make a story sketch too (theme, conflicts, setting information, etc.) and refer to it periodically while writing and revising.

All right. Time to get to revising chapters one and two! :-) It's going to be a long day.

And I accidentally left my cell phone on yesterday and picked up a call from a friend, who, as usual, began chewing me out for not calling--even though I've made friends aware of my deadline and I will be in touch after I meet it--say that "you don't write ALL day. You gotta eat. You can call me then." True, I gotta eat. But when I eat, I wanna eat. Not talk. Then it's "You can take 2 minutes to talk to me." When I point out that all my friends say this, they all will reply, "I'm not talking about everybody else, just me." So argument ensues (I have no idea why I'm arguing) and the conversation ends on a negative note of the friend saying, "Well, FINE. I'll tell you what then. Why don't you just call me when you're done writing the book?!"

I guess they feel better with it coming from them because that's what I've been saying since I started the book. In any respect, this is why the cell phone remains off. LOL


Suzanne Wed Aug 31, 09:46:00 AM EDT  

LOL on them telling you what you already told them! I think it's hard for people to understand that even if you're not writing every waking hour, you're kinda brain dead when you're on a deadline and your head is just FULL of the story and there's not room for anything else!!

Cherlyn Michaels Wed Aug 31, 09:59:00 AM EDT  

Oh, Suzanne, you're absolutely right. And I'm at wits end trying to get some of my friends to understand. No, I don't write ALL day, but when I'm not writing, I'm thinking about the story and scenes, or reading, or just giving my mind a break and the last thing I want to do is talk. I'm at the point of just giving up trying to explain it to my friends.

Jill Wed Aug 31, 10:05:00 AM EDT  

Friends who are not writers don't get it, lol, and frankly, they never will. But WE get it!!

Court Wed Aug 31, 12:27:00 PM EDT  

Congrats on finishing your first draft. They just want to feel special, but what they fail to realize is that just because you are not speaking with them constantly doesn't mean that your feelings have deteriorated. You are focused and I love that. I was that way with going to school and my friends nagged me the same way. They were still there when I decided to pick up the phone. True friends always stick around. Thanks for the rundown of how you build your characters. I am an avid reader and it is neat how I am now getting to see how it's done. Congrats once again. :-)

princessdominique Wed Aug 31, 12:51:00 PM EDT  

I'm with Jill. Non-writer friends don't get it. How can they?

Cherlyn Michaels Wed Aug 31, 01:36:00 PM EDT  

Jill and Dom,
I know you both are right. Seems like I keep coming to this same point and hitting my head against the wall on trying to draw a picture and getting some people to understand. I never will, I know.

I agree with what you said about my true friends.
And hey, that's why I post a lot about my writing details. When i was on the road, in talking to readers, I got a lot of questions about how do you create consistent characters without mixing them up and knowing who does what. So, I wanted to share that. Glad you find it interesting. :-)

The Foxybrown Show Thu Sep 01, 09:37:00 AM EDT  

What? The Season Finale of The Foxybrown Show?
Could it be? That Foxy is a bad motha…Shut yo mouth!

Leah Mullen Thu Sep 01, 08:21:00 PM EDT  

I took a class with Donna Hill where she taught us about the character chart but I have trouble with it before I start to write. I don't know them until I see them in the story. Well, I start with one motivation and the rest of the stuff I discover as I go along. I LOVE your excel database I idea. Love it!! Love it!! Love it!!

Cherlyn Michaels Thu Sep 01, 08:30:00 PM EDT  

Hey Leah,
You can pick up a lot of these writer "tools" from classes and other writers. And with everything, you use what works for you, discard the rest aside. I remember hearing about the "bubble formula" or something for plotting. Doesn't work for me. But, hey! We all gotta go with what works for us! :-)