Thursday, May 28, 2009

What is Magic Fairy Dust Made of? Where does it come from?

What book characters have become real to you?

When the Good Fairy waves her magic wand, Fairy Dust flies and "POOF" Pinnochio becomes a real boy. Easy for her, right? Wave. Sparkle. Poof. But did you ever stop to think about where this Magic Fairy Dust comes from?

Well. . . I'll tell ya what. One thing that I've learned from this workshop is that this natural resource is not easily mined. Mined. That's right. The stuff that Magic Fairy dust is made of comes deep from the caverns that many do not dare to go and this Fairy dust isn't just handed over, you have to work for it. . . and in our very first morning session, Rich Wallace led us there. Let me explain:

This is where it started. From this cozy living room on a warm country morning, Rich led us into the depths of our memories; that dark forbidden place where Fairy Dust is born. The magic that can turn a paper character in to a flesh and blood person to whom we can relate.

Rich's advice to us was this: Use the emotional heat from your experience and give it to your characters.

You don't have to make every story a direct experience from your life. But you can add the feelings of anticipation, sadness, love, etc. pluck it out of your life and add it to whatever circumstance is in your story.

Rich also told us to put ourselves inside of each of your characters heads. Even the antagonist. Because to have a believable antagonist, he/she needs to seem real to the reader. So, instead of having just a skeletal villan, we need to put flesh and blood on his bones. Since we tend to hate our own antagonists and want the reader to hate him/her, we tend to only think of them as bad. But to give the antagonist more depth, Rich suggests that we ask ourselves this: "What do you like best about your antagonist?"

Rich led us through an exercise where we were to think of a life changing moment from our past. First we were to list details that we remember; emotions, those involved, sensory details, words spoken, etc.

Once we made our list of details, we went back and wrote the memory in story form. Then we each shared our memory with the group. This was like a therapy session. I think if Rich had not become a writer he may have very well made a good therapist. We all reconnected to that time in our life and the emotion showed in our voices. Many of us even cried.

Our final assignment was to take the emotion from that moment in our lives and start a new story that involved the emotions we had just dug up. (I'll share more about what I came up with in a later post.)

This was such an awesome exercise and it was interesting to hear how each of the other ladies processed their emotions.

But mining a memory and putting it into a story isn't easy. You may not want to go back and face certain emotional moments. You may not want to put those feelings into a story for fear of showing a more vulnerable side of yourself. You may even come out liking something about your antagonist and relating to him/her even though you really don't want to.

So. Next time you read a book where a character or scene moves you, one where you can relate and connect. . . I'd say that you'd better bet your bippy that the author had to face a struggle to mine those gems and graft them into the story.

It's not easy, but ohhhhh. . . the difference it makes!

For me, One of the most memorable characters that I've read lately is Katniss from "The Hunger Games" Even though I've never been in her situation, I feel like she was written in a way that I can relate and feel for her. I wanted to stay with her through the whole ride.

What are some of the most memorable characters that you've encountered?


Kelly said...

Rich gave some great tips. Seems like a worthwhile writing exercise that really makes your emotions come out!
Junie B. Jones is one of my favorite characters but I think it's because she reminds me of my daughter. In an adult book, I remember really liking the character Jake Brigance in A Time to Kill. He was so honest and real. Then when I saw the movie, I REALLY liked him :)

Ello said...

AWesome tips = am so jealous!

And yes I loved Katniss and the Hunger Games! Another character I loved was Katsa in Graceling.

Kelly H-Y said...

Wow ... what fantastic information!!! Thanks so much for sharing what you learned from the workshop. I'm looking forward to hearing more from your retreat!

Bish Denham said...

Wonderful advise! Scout comes immediately to mind when I think of memorable characters.

Rena said...

I tried to reply to this earlier, but it wouldn't let me. Sounds like it's been a great trip for you, Christy, and thanks so much for sharing some of it with us! The cabins looked awesome!

Shelli said...

that sounds intense!

PJ Hoover said...

You know every time I'm asked a question like this I draw a blank!
Okay, here's my new answer. My most memorable characters are my own. They're the ones that stick with me the longest. Especially WIP ones.

C.R. Evers said...

Kelly, Junie B. Jones is a good one!

Ello, ohhh, I liked Kasta too. Sometimes I forget Kasta's name. I remember Katniss because in the book it was mentioned that it sounded like catnip. That stuck w/ me. :0)

Thanks Kelly! You're so sweet!

Good one Bish!

Thanks Rena, I think you'd be very comfortable in this kind of setting.

Thnx Shelli! :0)

LOL, PJ. That's a good answer. :0D I know that your characters certainly stayed w/ me. I always think of your book when I think of teleporters. I think of teleporter more than the average person BTW. :0)

Ian Sands said...

all that advice.. that's too much to remember.. now i forgot what i was going to comment on! Great job richie.. hope youre happy with yourself!

C.R. Evers said...

That's why I take notes. I had to transfer it all to my blog before my notes wore off my forearm.


adrienne said...

Thanks for sharing the great advice!
I'm always drawn to lovable misfits like Paddington.

Ian Sands said...

Oh I remember now... memorable characters. Well, who could forget Duck from Click, Clack, Moo?

Angela said...

I have always loved:
Gilly Hopkins
Christopher Robin
Lyra from the His Dark Materials

and I also love Junie B!

christy, I can't wait for the next post when you share the story of your story!

Kit said...

Great job Christy,
I couldn't resist linking your
good information to my blog- I hope you do not mind-

Julia said...

Sounds like an awesome retreat, Christie. Thanks for sharing these great tips & insights & exercises!

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