We all want to write good stories that will capture a large audience and survive decades after entering literature’s hall of fame. Most of the task relays upon creating compelling characters. How do we start to write with that kind of pressure and expectation from ourselves?
There are so many writing resources scattered around the internet, so many how-to’s, so many clichés, so many guides and advices and rules to follow (or to break), so many online courses and author services that will do the thinking for you.
Too much information to deal with gets me frustrated. Whenever something looks way too complicated and chaotic it means that at least 80% of it is total trash or just duplicated.
Digging in the remaining 20% is a major time consuming effort on its own. You need to separate the gold from the soil carefully, and while it is still worth it (I do it once a year) the price of gold is always shifting according to the market.
What do I mean by that? I mean that some information could be valuable to you now, but value changes over time. True evergreen value is even harder to find or create now days.
So, where’s the only place you and only you can do the research and find all the ideas and guidance you truly need? Inside yourself.
And I don’t mean it in a new age spiritual way at all, although you can take it there if you’re that type of person.
Usually when writers think about themes or plot ideas for their story they derive them from their personal life or from their immediate surroundings. When they think about creating new characters they build them based upon people that they know or people they are researching.
But there’s another way that is faster and better – doing an inner research first.
What real insights can you give on a subject that doesn’t have an immediate connection with you? You can immerse yourself in interviews, data, articles, stories etc until you’re able to tell the whole story while you’re sleep walking. But still, the story didn’t affect you in the deepest level and didn’t record an emotional imprint on your brain.
It will always be harder and more superficial to write with an outer perspective, no matter how good your research is. It will always be less complex and profound.
There’s no wonder most writers will tell you “write what you know” or to write about something you could really relate to because you share a deep connection with your main character.
The most important advice I can give you is to search for your characters within.
You have soft side and a dark side; you are manipulative and thoughtful, graceful and vulgar, you have childish, animalistic and evil sides. Each and every one of you has alter egos, secret fantasies, fears and personas you can use to create the most complex and diverse characters.
You don’t need to model a character based on public figures or close friends because no matter how well you know them, you can never be exposed to a 100% of their thinking process or know a 100% of their motives and emotions.
The only true knowledge you have is of yourself and you can use that to create vivid characters that you will understand completely and will always be able to see and speak through on the deepest levels of motivation and identification. Your readers will immediately sense the difference.
Want to try a little exercise? Use your inner research to write these:
- Write a passage about a memory from your childhood
- Write about an experience through the eyes of an animal you relate to
- Write a passage through the eyes of a stranger who’s profoundly different from you
- Compare the 3 passages by voice, style and personality
- Tell me how it went in the comments section below