Monday, August 16, 2010

Roots: the keys to our pasts and futures


Isn't this a cute group of kids? My dad's buried under the pile. I'm probably eight, since I'm guessing Joel is about one.

Eric pulled this photo out last week. You can learn a lot about me by this photo.

And I got to thinking about what that means for the characters I create. This week, I plan/hope to work on proposals for new books and series. Often the hardest part of the process for me is taking the time to drill down into the main characters' psyches. What makes them act, think and talk the way they do?

For example, most who know me correctly identify me as Type A within about three minutes. Look at this photo. Doesn't it make sense? I'm your stereotypical first born...just read Kevin Leman's Birth Order book if you're not sure what that entails. And this photo clearly shows that. Who has her arms wrapped around all three of her siblings? Yep...

But that's a simple characterizer. Identify the birth order of characters and it gives a core set of criteria for how they might act. But it's certainly not a guarantee.

I also tend to engage a full room -- doesn't matter how many people are in it. That's not necessarily a function of my birth order. For me, I think it had more to do with being an early homeschooler who felt the need to break the stereotype that homeschoolers are wallflowers. And I genuinely like people. But why might a character be an extrovert or introvert? What's the lie they believe about themselves?

All of these questions require thought and diving deep. Hard work. But critical to creating characters readers can emotionally connect with. And that after all is what we all want!

5 comments:

Casey said...

I like what you said here, Cara. I did a bit of diggig into my characters when I wrote my last manuscript, and I found it just flowed so much better with knowing who they are. It made such a difference. And I can't wait to do it again on my next one! :)

Crystal Laine Miller said...

Oh, my goodness! You kids are so cute (just like your kids!) I recognize your smile right away! Isn't that funny. Isn't it funny that we are who we are from a young age (from conception!) and we're designed by the Father to be who we are.

Love this. Great advice.

Cindy Noonan said...

I am writing a middle grade novel and love your advice about character development - What lie do they believe about themselves? I'm adding that to my list.

rascal40 said...

Your book, "A Promise Kept", is awesome! You have included a very sensitive event and recovery in which you drew within your own heart. The result is a beautiful gift to other women and to the Lord, who desires that each woman who has had a miscarriage to receive His comfort and healing. I read both Love Inspired and Heartsong romance, and look forward to reading many more of your books! May our Father richly bless you, and may He continue to lead you in all that you do!

Cara Putman said...

Glad this was helpful! And rascal, thanks for your comments on A Promise Kept. It was a challenging book to write, but one I am so glad to have out. :-)

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