Here’s what happened when I released my stubborn hold on who I thought my characters were.
I asked my heroine why she didn’t want to run the family gun shop. (Yes, I talked to her. I was a little cautious about it because the notion’s kinda kooky, and I really didn’t want my kids to hear me talking to myself, so I whispered. LOL )
I asked, and she told me, “Look. I’m spending every day with my mom and she’s driving me nuts. I have to find the missing paperwork pronto or the ATF’s gonna shut her down and guess where she’ll be living? No way, sister. I love my mom, but I need my privacy.”
So, in the interest of showing you how I used Debra Dixon’s book, I’ll share Diana’s character info. It still needs work, but wow! After doing her GMC chart and those of three other characters, not only was I able to write my first chapter, I knew where I was going!
NAME : Diana (gun shop co-owner/teacher) Paints every spare minute she has. Mockingbird is totem
WHO SHE IS: a self-deluding paper tiger (tough on the outside, scared within)
WHAT SHE WANTS: Starter goal: has to find missing logbook. Get thru ATF audit. Bigger: Own her own art studio. Express herself via painting. Keep shop from being closed.
BECAUSE: 1. Logbook has info for ATF search phone call. 2. ATF doing audit. 3. She doesn’t want her mother living with her. 4. she wants to get back to her private life
BUT: Can’t find logbook. Her mother lost additional ppw. Her mother needs her in the gun shop. (obviously!)
INTERNAL WANTS: needs to please. Then : to know herself; to be regarded as ‘real’ artist; autonomy
BECAUSE: It’ll make her feel important; like she’s contributing something to the world; she’ll be expressing herself
BUT: She’s afraid: of failure, of creating garbage, of the unknown. She doesn’t believe she has the talent; won’t put her art on display. And she’s worried her mother won’t be able to run the shop effectively by herself.
My hero’s character info is still missing the internal want/need, but I was still able to write the first chapter because I had his external want pretty clear in my head. I’ll be tweaking both as I go.
You see how nowhere in Diana’s goals is there a wish to fall in love? Falling in love is what happens as she’s pursuing her goals. If falling in love were her goal, I think she’d be a weak and boring character. I want her to have an interesting life that she ultimately invites the hero –and the reader–into.
Same goes for the hero, Mark. His immediate desire is to plop down in his easy chair and read a book he’s been itching to read for several days but hasn’t had time for. Problem is, his 5-year-old nephew is having trouble getting to sleep because his mother’s recently been killed in an accident. It’s a simple conflict, and it will grow into something bigger as the story progresses.
Edited: June 2nd, 2009