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Rewriting from the Inside Out

Cheryl's Musings: Rewriting from the Inside Out

Cheryl's Musings

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road


Rewriting from the Inside Out

I've been thinking about one of the secondary characters in my current novel rewrite, a character by the name of Khess. Khess needs a "tell," something that will help her character come to life as unique and distinct from the other characters. I realized that I'm going about it the wrong way. I've been making lists of speech patterns, expressions, and character quirks, trying to find one that fits. Instead, I need to start inside the character, so that the quirk/expression/physical characteristic extends naturally from who she is. I need to figure out where Khess is coming from.

So I did a little journaling from Khess's point of view. She's not the main character. How does she feel when the main character comes waltzing into her life? What's her family situation? Who are her friends? How does the prejudice of her city affect her?
I'm not big on those "lists" people fill out to gain insight into their characters--you know, the ones where you fill in name, age, occupation, hobbies, car make and model. The list concept is a good one, but the list needs to be personalized for your particular characters and your particular story. The key is to get inside your characters' heads so that they become real people to you. When they're real to you, they can become real for the readers, too.

Khess is a much fuller, rounder character now--which is both good and bad. Good, because she's much easier to write. Bad, because I think I might have to rewrite a few scenes that I'd thought I finished. I'm not sure the Khess I've gotten to know would be quite so cheery and eager-to-please--and flat--as I've drawn her. More work (sigh), but definitely on the road to a better story. And after all, that's what it's all about!

:) Cheryl

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