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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, Masque & Spectacle, and several other journals. I have essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. In December of 2016, The Mondegreen nominated my story "Santa Lucia" for a Pushcart Prize. I've written a novel entitled Purple Loosestrife and a novel entitled Hoping It Might Be So, both of which I am submitting to agents and publishers. I'm working on a novel called Dark and Bright as well as a book called Violets Are Blue: Essays About My Bipolar Life. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Few Tips About Creating Characters

A few tips about creating characters that happen to work for me (not an exhaustive list--just a few things off the top of my head):

  • Give your characters birthdays.
  • Write notes or passages about their childhoods, even if they won't appear in the story or novel.
  • Think about their ideas on faith, the existence of God, and the afterlife, even if these aspects of the characters won't appear in the story or novel.
  • Think of what book(s) they're reading at the time of the story or novel--again, this need not appear in the story or novel, but it can give you an idea about the personalities of your characters.
  • Think about their political views.
  • Ask yourself, what are my characters' favorite foods?

Again, this is not an exhaustive list--these are just a few of the things I think about when I'm creating characters.  I want to know my characters very well, including things about them that may never appear in the work itself.  I think that knowing things such as these helps to make them multidimensional on the page.  For example, if I know that a given character is a liberal Democrat who's agnostic, these aspects of him may not appear in the work, but they may affect how he reacts in a given situation.  If my character loves seafood and is reading The Grapes of Wrath at the time that I'm telling her story, this will help me know her better.  These aspects of her may be irrelevant to her story, but I believe that my knowledge of them will show in the work.

Happy writing!


2 comments:

  1. A great idea. A friend of mine interviews her characters, so that she can probe beneath the surface and sometimes reveal some startling insights about their attitudes to the world around them. And, as you say, it needn't all end up on the pages of the book, but it gives you a greater understanding of the people you're writing about.

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    1. Thanks for your feedback, Derek! I've engaged in silent conversation with my characters to see what they think about various things. I enjoy "talking" with them! And you can get some startling insights, as you put it.

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