Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Shopping for Your Characters

I know many of you ventured out on Black Friday to do some Christmas shopping and even if not, you will probably be out over the next few weeks purchasing gifts for friends and loved ones. Or perched at the computer ordering presents. Or even working hard at making something special to wrap up for someone you care about.

For the most part, I enjoy shopping for Christmas. The challenge of finding the perfect gift for someone that will make them smile. Of course, it can be stressful, too. Last week, I woke up in the middle of the night--I'm not sure if I was dreaming or what--but I suddenly wondered, if I had to shop for my characters, what would I get them? And you know what? It totally stumped me.

So I thought and thought, while my husband was sleeping peacefully next to me. I have no idea how he never wakes up in the middle of the night--doesn't he ever get so many thoughts in his head that they keep him awake? Or is that just writers? But I digress.

Anyway, I thought about one of my characters in particular. The hero. And I realized that if I couldn't come up with something tangible, or even better, something intangible, that he wants for Christmas, then I didn't have a strong enough grasp on his goal for the book.

What does he want and why? What drives him?

Something Tangible

I finally decided that Drew (my hero) would dearly love some ball point pens, because he's a writer and he's always losing his. And this is a great little quirk I could add to my story.

Not only that, he wants company. Simple, good company (from two people in particular)--because he's tired of being lonely.

If your character were to make a Christmas wish list, is there something tangible that they would put on it? Something that shows more about your character?

Something Intangible

Now this was the hard part. Drew lost his wife and daughter in a car accident, but what does he really want? It took me awhile to finally realize it's forgiveness (he feels guilty for not being there with them when they died) and the chance to move on.

These are important goals that have to be established for Drew's character to work. So I'm happy I asked him what he wants for Christmas!

Making a wish list for your character can be a great way to get to know them better, to add some dimension, and best of all, to make sure you have their goal firmly established for the book.

So, what would your character put on their Christmas list? Can you think of something tangible and something you can't wrap to help flesh out your character a little more? I'd love to see the results!


Keli Gwyn said...

Cindy, what a fun exercise. My characters both own retail businesses, so they can pretty much get themselves whatever they want wholesale. However, each of them found a special item they give to the other at different points in the story, something they put a great deal of thought into.

Regarding the intangible, the hero wants to be free of a burden he's carried for year and the heroine wants to earn the approval of a special person in her life.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Love this idea. Such a great way to get to know our characters better!
~ Wendy

Sarah Forgrave said...

What a great idea, Cindy! I'm just starting to develop ideas for my next story, so this is perfect timing. :)

Julia M. Reffner said...

Great idea, Cindy! I'm thinking about this regarding my next story...although as Wendy wrote in her last post I'm jumping the gun a bit.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Hi, Keli. I'm intrigued by what I've seen of your story so far :) I like that your hero and heroine give each other something special in the story--what a great way to make readers care for your characters.

Wendy, it seems like you can never learn enough about your characters. Filling in their backgrounds and who they've become--even if we don't use certain information in the story, it still helps to develop a well-rounded and interesting character.

Sarah, yay for a new story! I think just starting to learn about your characters is always the part that's the most fun.

Julia, jumping the gun? Uh-oh :) Actually, I know what you mean even though I'm supposed to be dedicating myself to one story at a time. It's just too fun getting to know new characters. Have a great weekend!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Love this! I think my heroine I'm working on now is practical but also sentimental. I can see her loving a homemade present of some sort.