I’m still going full steam ahead on plotting Stars. If all goes “according to plan”, the series will be quite lengthy, even if the actual books aren’t (I haven’t made any hard or fast decisions on length as of yet). It revolves around a group of girls and their adventures over the space of a year. I apologize for my extremely vague descriptions, as I’m sort of superstitious about this project. Once I start writing the first book, I will feel much better about sharing. Anyway, each girl is going to get her own book. And while there is an overarching theme for the series, there is also a different theme for each book, and each girl’s journey.
Right now, I’m trying not to get too caught up in details. I’m just trying to pair down the essence of who the girls are at a glance, (and my series at a glance) giving myself a target to aim for so to speak. I was doing really well with this for the first few tries, in that I got several really cool ideas that I never considered before and felt like I was really beginning to understand my characters….
(You knew there would be an “and then” didn’t you?)
And then I got to a character who had always been very sketchy. With the first few girls, even the ones I didn’t know very well, had very strong and clearly defined motivations. I just to do a bit of expanding and explaining. But the current character…she didn’t. So I took a step back and wrote down what her initial motivation was, as I understood it to be.
I got: “Saran needs to be needed.”
Not bad, just really, really vague. But it got me asking questions, and any writer worth their salt will tell you that questions are one of the most vital tools an author can have at their disposal. So I wrote them all down. Mostly it was “Why does she need this? In what capacity does she need it? Does this relate at all to her culture?” Because culture plays a very significant role in this series and while I intuitively thought the answer would be that “yes, it does relate to her culture”, I wanted to know for sure.
So I raided the Stock Photo websites and found two potential models of Inuk descent to act as inspiration. Then I let my muse mull it over for a week, doing light research on Aboriginal Alaskans, Eskimos, and the Siberian Yup’ik here and there to aid in the process.
And the pieces began to fall into place…slowly, but surely. I now have a full page for her. It doesn’t have quite the same spark as the previous ones, but I feel confident enough to move on. I don’t need to know her inside and out (yet), I just need to “get” her.
What sort of things do you do when you need to know your character better? If you’d be so kind, please share in the comments!