December 23, 2008

Writing Tip 7: Character Guidance - Mary Cunningham

When you're writing, characters should come alive. The author often can hear the characters' voices. The question is, what are they saying?

Writer's Tip 7: Let Your Characters Guide You

Mary Cunningham, author of the young reader Cynthia's Attic series, (THE MISSING LOCKET, THE MAGIC MEDALLION, CURSE OF THE BAYOU, Quake/Echelon Press) readily admits her characters talk to her - and she listens.

"Authors sometimes complain that they have the characters nailed down, but the plot drives them crazy!," she says. "They get to a certain point and hit a wall.

"It made me think about how I wrote the plot for the first two Cynthia's Attic books. I also had my characters in mind, but, strangely enough, they told me where they wanted to go and what they wanted to do (anyone but a writer would think I'm nuts).

"For instance, in the second chapter of Cynthia's Attic: THE MISSING LOCKET, I still wasn't sure of the plot. I sat, hands poised on the keyboard. All at once, my fingers started moving. I looked at the computer screen and read what had been typed: 'Clara? Is that you?'

"Believe it or not, when I read those four words, the whole story fell out in front of me. It can happen that unexpectedly. Oh sure, you still have to write the story, but, if you get stuck, let your characters guide you."

** Good advice and it gives us a reason to talk to ourselves, right?

** What do your characters say to you?

-- Mary Cunningham is the author of the Cynthia's Attic series and co-author of the humor book WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty.

In THE MISSING LOCKET, best friends, Gus and Cynthia snoop in Cynthia's parents' attic, discovering an old trunk that leads them to various adventures. A fun time-travel/fantasy.

1 comment:

  1. I do have to get into my character's head to write, which is difficult when I do it in short spurts. By the time I'm in there, I have to stop. I love it when I can just write without time constraints, but that doesn't happen often.

    Morgan Mandel


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