Friday, August 20, 2010
In Their Own Words -- Anne
Hi everyone, I just wanted to say thank you very much for stopping by and reading this series. It was a lot of fun and I liked the way it turned out.
I felt it was important to do this. My characters are ALWAYS talking to me. Sometimes, I think I'm possessed. And because I can't show you all of the book, I thought it might be nice for you to meet them, in person, so you could hear the way they really sound.
For anyone who wants to do this, on your own, or on the blog (which would be really cool), I think it helps to have a clear definition of what your character looks like first. Which is the reason for the pictures. Not only do they help you picture your characters in your mind's eye, they help with the clarity of their voices as well.
Now, some people can "see" their characters right from the get-go. I could only see Genna when I started. I knew she looked like Jessica Alba, and for the longest time Tony was a young John Travolta (from Saturday Night Fever actually.) This was also at the beginning and I was trying to write a true romance.
But as the story began to take shape and I knew I wasn't writing romance anymore, but women's fiction, I knew that my Tony wouldn't work for me through the long haul. And then one day Dylan McDermott magically appeared on my tv screen and wah-la, the real Tony was born.
When I posted my pictures of the characters a few weeks ago, some of you didn't really like Jessica Alba as my Genna. You said she was too young, her hair wasn't dark enough. I agreed. I really liked Jessica, but I always knew she was too young, hence, the finding of the new Genna. I like my new Genna, she fits the story, as well as my character description, and she's just absolutely beautifully perfectly Italian. Even though she's Irish.
Once I had everyones faces, I could also "hear" their voices. My writing became a whole lot easier after that. Kind of like a blind date: your friends can tell you everything about that person, but until you meet them, or see them in person, you have no clue. Sure they "sound great on paper", but until you know they don't look like Ronald McDonald, they're just a blur in your mind.
When the lovely and very talented E.Elle did this series on her blog, I was in total awe of her. I was jealous of her. I lamented that I couldn't do it, I couldn't try it, I couldn't figure out HOW. And then, once I got the pictures, for some reason, it all became clear. I could see them and hear them, found their mannerisms and their quirks. Uncle Sally's Italian. Angie's, 'I mean's', Aunt Fortuna repeating herself. We all speak differently as people, so should your characters. I'm sure if this ever gets picked up I'll be in revision hell for all my -- what'd'ya', coulda', I've got, and eh.'s
Don't get me wrong, this was fun but it wasn't easy. I worked on each of these sketches endlessly, sometimes right up until they posted, just to get their 'voices' right for you. (I'm a perfectionist that way.) I wanted you to hear what I hear when they talk to me. I hope I did a good job.
So here are the three things I've learned from doing this --
1) It's easier if you have pictures. And good pictures, not just stock photos. It took me 2 days to find Minnie Driver dressed like a "cousin at the christening" instead of a moviestar.
2) Voices don't fully form until at least half way through the book. They haven't done enough in the beginning, they're still flailing around, trying to decide if they want to be good or bad or mischievous. They change their minds and their attitudes. By 50K they've finally settled into who they're supposed to be.
3) And writing is truly a subjective business. Some of the comments you left really surprised me -- especially about Tony and Genna. Especially from the men. I guess this just proved to me why some people (agents) love what they read and some don't.
So thanks everyone for stopping by. It was great having you and I really enjoyed hearing what you thought about "my people". I really hope you all try this. It's not only great fun, but you really do learn so much more about your characters.
Have a great weekend.