I realized that most of the time I probably look crazy. Why? I talk to myself. A lot.
Hey, you know you get the best answers that way, right? (Or at least the ones you want!)
But talking to myself is not a sign of mental instability. It's more an occupational hazard.
You see, when I'm talking to myself, it's not really me. (Uh-oh) It's really my characters speaking through, and to me.
No, I'm not talking possession or multiple personalities, though I do hear a lot of voices in my head. The voices I hear don't tell me crazy things, though. (Thank goodness I don't write about serial killers).
As I'm writing, my characters tell me what they think. They tell me if what I'm putting on paper sounds like them - or should be attributed to someone else.
Writing is more than just putting words down on paper. It evokes the senses.
If you're in tune with your writing, you should see the action in your head. You should see it unfold in your imagination. You should see a character doing things that only he or she would do.
You should hear the lilt of a character's voice, or the gruffness of a crabby old neighbor, or hear the fear in your character's voice. You should hear the way that character speaks.
You should smell their surroundings, or the musky scent of their sweat, or the slightly cloying smell of an older lady's favorite perfume. You should smell the sweetness of fresh-baked cookies. Your mouth should water as you see those still warm cookies get taken out of the oven.
All it takes is a few words, the right words, for you - and your reader - to experience all those things and get into the story.
All it takes is sitting down and letting your characters talk to you. And don't be afraid to have a conversation with them. Hearing your characters speak, and getting to know them, is what makes them come alive and seem real.
If you can't hear them or know who they are, will they be real enough for anyone else to want to read about them - or really care? If not, you need to start letting them talk - and start talking back.
** Your Turn: How do you get to know your characters?
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