Friday, July 31, 2009


Today I've been researching characterisation. Well, for the last few days I've been researching characterisation and it's thanks mainly to an old bellboy in the film 'Somewhere in Time'.

Allow me to explain.

The leading lady, played by Jane Seymour, is a wonderfully full and complex character, as is Christopher Reeves character. Even the bad guy, who really only has the young starlets best interests at heart, played by Christopher Plummer, is a full and interesting enough character that the viewer manages to gather enough emotion to not really like the guy and hope he comes to a foul end. It's probably the most wooden of all the characters who have a speaking part - or that could be Christopher Plummer (he's pretty much the same in The Sound Of Music as well).

And then there's Arthur Biehl, played by Bill Urwin (young Arthur played by Sean Hayden). He is one of those characters who does very little in the film and yet manages to endear himself to the viewer. He's simply there to join the past with the future in a quaint way that shows how nice Christopher Reeves character really is. And yet I remember that character almost as well as I remember the main three.

That's what I want to be able to do, write characters people will remember.

Then I realised that Richard Matheson wrote the novel and the screenplay. Bugger me. One of the preeminent horror writers of all time, and I love his time travelling love story. Still, not a bad person to want to emulate - one day.

So, in my quest for writing a better character, I thought back to what I know worked in the past. The best stories I think I've written so far have all had lots of research behind them. That research has led to an easier time of it when it came to weaving a story. It comes back to that adage of 'writing what you know'. If you don't know, go research about it until you do know, and then write.

So I set about getting to know my characters. I've done an 11 page dossier on my main male character. It's not as bad as it sounds - it's pretty much a list taken from, and added to, the original found here at It's not finished. I'll add to it as I go, but it's a good starting point.

At the end of it, I decided my character hadn't acted correctly in the first three chapters. Something needed to be done. So I wrote a new first chapter, moved some things around and I'm now much happier. I'll let things settle a bit before I have another look over things.

I've also been scouring the web for pictures of my people. I've pretty much got pics of all my characters except my female lead. For her, I have 11. They are all different women and yet something within them captures what I see my lead being. She will be complex and complicated to live with - and she's not even the POV character.

Many of you have been throwing up excerpts from your current WIP - I'm afraid I won't be doing the same. Nothing leaves this study until it's been revised at least two or three times and then has the stamp of semi-approval from Pharo and my Beta readers. When I think it's worth reading, then I'll start sharing outside this select circle.

I won't throw up a new word count, I'll save it for next Wednesday - that way it'll look like I've managed something during the week...

That's about it for now - back to reading...


  1. I love hearing about how people construct things! This is particularly cool since it's exactly what do for my characters. Sometimes I try and write some stuff first and play with them, and THEN I do the whole dossier thing, but yes. This is it.

    I hope it's giving you as much fun as it gives me. Sounds awesome!

  2. I haven't done a dossier of my characters in a long time, but a lot of times while I'm writing I have to stop and work out (mentally) some aspect of a character's past that influences the current events. I really ought to write it all down. Although I don't think I could come up with eleven pages worth of stuff--that's impressive. :)

  3. I am with Katey on this one. I love to hear other's processes. It gives me a different perspective on how I do things.

  4. I always look for photos of my characters as well. I like to have a visual.