Walk a day in their shoes

I’ve been reading Wild Ink: How to Write Fiction for Young Adults by Victoria Hanley for a couple of days now.  At first I was reading it right before bed and finding myself falling asleep after a page or two. I was going to give up and put it down, chalk it up to Victoria being a better class leader, public speaker – I met her at the RMFW conference last year – and fantasy writer than instructional manual writer.

I’m SO glad I didn’t!

Last night I had a couple of minutes to kill before my hubby was ready to decide what we should do with the kid-free portion of our evening.  I’d already spent the ENTIRE day on my computer, there was nothing new to waste time on there, so I picked up Wild Ink again, knowing I’d be able to put it down when my husband was done with his work.


I read 150 plus pages of the book last night, highlighter, sharpie AND pen in hand.  I jumped up three times to grab scrap paper to write notes about things I NEEDED to change in the book I am working on.  (I would have just jumped on my box and changed them, but after a near miss with a spilled beverage I was backing up all my files, this is one book I can’t afford to lose.)

Of all the wisdom imparted, all the knowledge shared, this one nugget absolutely rocked my world in that “Ah-ha!  Duh!” kind of way that brilliant ideas often hit us, right between the eyes. It was a piece of advice from one of the many people Victoria interviewed for Wild Ink, Laura Backes, she said, “Get to know your main character and try writing short essays in her voice every day.”  The advice went on, “Urge her to talk about anything and everything that’s important to her, even if you don’t plan on using the information in your book… It can be a little scary – losing yourself to your story – but that’s how the best books come to be.”

Ah-ha!! Duh! *Forehead slap*

So this morning I woke up at 5:30am, per Nancy Lamb’s invaluable advice, but instead of “just journaling” for 30 minutes, I wrote in my main character’s diary.  She’s in a rough spot right now, on the lam with her mom.  The police are after them, she’s not sure she really trusts that her mom’s plan is going to work, she’d really, really like to be able to call her friends and let them know she’s OK, or at least check her facebook page, but she know’s it’s still too dangerous.

In my rush to get the action, the details, on “paper” over the weekend, I had lost sight of HER voice, HER story.  This morning, I found it again.

I’m bringing 10 Steps to Creating Memorable Characters to work with me today so I can delve even deeper yet.  I’m also going to start hitting up my pre-teen niece for her old copies of Seventeen magazine so I can start taking those quizzes as Cassie, my heroine.

What are your tricks for finding the true voice of your characters? Have you ever written as the opposite sex? What do you have to do differently? (I am considering having a chapter or two from the father’s POV) Share your tips and tricks in the comments!



Filed under Writing

3 responses to “Walk a day in their shoes

  1. Pingback: Making Time | ThinkBannedThoughts Blog

  2. Pingback: Intelligent Risking | ThinkBannedThoughts Blog

  3. Pingback: What’s in your Toolbox? | ThinkBannedThoughts Blog

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