Listen to your characters. Your muse. Your Rice Krispies. Whatever you want to call it. Then most importantly: do what they tell you.
J.K. Rowling recently gave an interview in which she states Ron and Hermione never should have ended up together. This was her reasoning:
“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really,” Rowling says in the interview. “For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”
“I know, I’m sorry,” she adds. “I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.”
Was it Rowling’s wish fulfillment that led Ron and Hermione together? Or was it that after all those books, Ron and Hermione had become living, breathing characters that made their own decisions.
My writing didn’t start to soar until I listened to my characters. And now, if they want to deviate from the plot I’ll sulk, maybe throw things, definitely curse, but in the end, I’ll deviate. The story is not about my journey, it’s about theirs; and they know best.
I spend over fifty percent of pre-writing time on character. Learning as much as I can. Asking questions, from the mundane, “what’s your favorite color?” to the critically important, “what’s your need/goal?” All answers are important and provide an insight to my characters that in the end will allow them to leap off the page and ensnare readers.
So, newbie writers: Create, love, get to know your characters, then sit back, put your hands on the keyboard, and let them do the work.
RB’s Pre-Writing Questionnaire For me, character is the most important part of the pre-writing phase. When I know as much as possible about my character, s/he becomes a living; breathing; full of flaws, wants, and needs person. Something that will transfer onto the page and into reader’s hearts. I’ve used a variety of methods over the years to gain the most heart from my characters and finally compiled it onto one Pre-Writing Questionnaire. Would you like a copy? Just go to rbaustin.com and send me a message. It’s a questionnaire for the character to fill out. You’ll write/type the answers, but it’s your character’s voice, his/her words that answer the questions. The document can easily be manipulated to fit you and your character’s needs. Answer all the questions, only half, whatever fits the mood. Even leaving some questions unanswered can be telling. But believe me, in the end, your character will be more alive than when you started.
Listen to your Rice Krispies is an aspect J.R. Ward talks about in her novel The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide. A must read for writers who love her paranormal series.
The J.K. Rowling quote was taken from CNN.com.
Who do you think Hermione should have married? http://hardcoversandheroines.com/2014/02/17/marry-date-or-dump-hermione-edition/