Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dating Your Character

One of the funnest things I get to do as a writer and artist is submerge myself in the characters. Often, I walk around the house responding to common chores as they would, and see where it leads. While I'm doing the dishes, I'm talking out a scene. Showering, singing their theme songs, or imagining their scene according to whatever instrumental I've chosen. And this is me taking a break from writing.

The brain never stops. Curse, meet habeƱero-chocolate-coated Blessing.

What do you do when you've exhausted your writing? Or you've tripped over a character block? Because you're not understanding the character enough, your story doesn't seem dynamic enough, maybe even believable. Maybe it's boring. Whatever the reason, you tired of the work; so do your characters. Time to take them out for some casual entertainment. 

Yes. A date.

  1. Pick Your Person
  2. Pick Your Place
  3. Pick Your Picture
  4. Go to Town (or park, or studio, or...)
  5. Archive it

Pick Your Person

Pick one you don't know very well. Maybe pick one you really enjoy (yep...exactly like a date). Is it a double date? A group? Just you plus one? You're dating to get to know them and let off steam. Make it count, especially if they like you. My antagonists usually say so, but then they don't call for a week, and I'm forced to torture them with the protagonist's success. That's what they get.

Pick Your Place

Set the setting. Set the mood. Set the table. Your table, actually. Or lap. What's your medium? You're not limited but since I can draw, we'll focus on that. 

What are you doing with your character? Concert? Ballroom? Deli? One of my characters happens to really like sandwiches. 

Pick Your Picture

If you haven't figured it out, the whole date thing is just getting you to pull out that sketchbook, and think about your character outside the story. Take my two protagonists (prots), Sven and Darlana. These scenes are nowhere in the book, but I wanted to see what these two would do between the chapters. Darlana's drunk face, the serious catwalk strut from an explosion (maybe) straight to lunch--all of this helps the writer see what kind of friendship the prots would have outside the plot. Think of your antagonists (antas). What would they do?

Some of my sketches never become line art or colored. I just keep them for the sake of enjoying the character. Seeing them with other characters, seeing them with me, makes writing so much easier. You're building a relationship with them. The more you love them, the more you want to write, and write well. And some others might benefit from the sketch as reference for their own work. I like to share as long as people don't steal. 

Go to Town

Have a blast! 

There are many ways to date your character. You can even try and be them. Take my expression reference for Sven:

Charismatic character? You'll want to keep references like this on a wall somewhere as a cheat sheet to know what tone and personality boundaries you can't cross. You want to be consistent in your writing. And knowing what your characters do in their spare time, deepens your knowledge about them.

Sven isn't the dull type. His dialogue doesn't show it, his face doesn't show it. You might even hear his accent through these expressions alone. He is one of my favorites. (Bradley Cooper is his lookalike, by-d-by.)

Archive It

Keep your sketches handy! Use them as you will. Find other people's references and, if they say it's okay, work off theirs. I have my own art website you can go to see these drawings. Always keep your sketches. I have a folder that's like a scrapbook. But some of these sketches are on my wall to keep them fresh in my mind. 

Hope this gives you some idea of lightening the writing mood when you're not writing. If you're on DeviantArt also, +watch me and I'll watch back. Later kiddos!

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