About Me

Tollesbury, Essex, United Kingdom
I was born in the Summer of 1969 in Dagenham, just on the border of East London. School was largely unproductive but enjoyable, setting me up for something of a wayward but interesting life! On leaving school I had various jobs including putting up stalls at Romford Market, working in a record shop, putting up ceilings, gardening and road sweeping. After resigning from an insurance company to play in a band, I found myself unemployed for two years. Then finally I got back on my feet and I've been a psychiatric nurse since 1997. I wrote A Cleansing of Souls when I was 22 years old and followed it up with Tollesbury Time Forever almost twenty years later. I started writing The Bird That Nobody Sees in September 2011 and it was released in July 2012. In terms of writing, my heroes are Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck. I would also include Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits as literary influences. So that's me I guess - scruffy, happy and in love with literary fiction, music and life...

Friday, 9 March 2012

Guest blog from Vic Watson!

VIc Watson is a lovely author who works tirelessly to help support others trying to make it in the writing game. Time she had some of the spotlight for herself - so here is a guest post from her in which she discusses the issue of developing characters...

Recently, I released ‘Letting Go’, an anthology featuring eight short stories written by me.

One thing that every potential writer should learn is how to develop depth in a character.

How do I develop depth in a character?

Listen and observe.
In order to create a believable character, you need to consider what people sound like in real life. People can remind you how multi-faceted your character should be. It’s easy to forget, when you’re in the writing zone, and portray the character too simply.

Back Story.
My main way of developing a character is by getting to know them – and their back story – inside out. You may not need to include all of this information in your story but you need to know it. If you only concentrate on the things you want your character to say and do in your story, the character doesn’t come alive. What makes your character tick? What’s important to them? What has influenced your character? Think about your own life – how do you describe yourself when introducing yourself to people? You might mention your job or your education, what you might not mention (but know yourself is about the social class you grew up in and your family background). You may tell someone about your political inclination, but you wouldn’t necessarily say why you supported a certain party. You might have been the victim of a crime and you support a certain political party because of their criminal justice policy but it’s not inevitable that you’d tell someone that.

When I’m writing, I sometimes think about forms I have to fill in. I fill in forms for insurance, medical purposes, questionnaires, job applications and so on. This reminds me of the information I know about myself but don’t necessarily give out on a frequent basis. You should know your character as well as you know yourself. That will show in your writing.

Appearance and outfits.
The way someone looks can hint towards their character or some part of their story but looks can be deceptive. For example, if one person’s hair is messy, it might mean that they left the house in a rush or that they’ve been caught in a storm. Likewise, they could be a frazzled mother or they could just not care about their appearance. A man – or woman – in a white coat could be a doctor but they could also be a dentist or on their way to a fancy dress party. Appearance can help but requires more detail in order to tell a story.

Think about how people in real life talk. Spend some time listening to people talk. There are fillers – “er” and “um” – as well as pauses. People lose their train of thought sometimes too. Is it realistic to have your character in Queen’s English? Would they say would not or wouldn’t? Do they use slang?

Does your character have any traits or habits that stand out? For example, does the character talk with their hands? Do they blink a lot? Do they have any twitches or speech impediments? Think about how your character walks – some people drag their legs, other people speed walk everywhere, and others have big strides. 

Put yourself in your character’s position. How would you react when placed in a similar situation? If you encountered a comparable challenge, how would you deal with it? How does the experiences your character has previously had influence how they feel about something? This is why you need to know their back story. 

Remember the grey.
Remember the ‘grey’ aspects of life. It’s rare that life is ever clear cut. Most people have conflicting opinions on certain matters and can often contradict themselves. I’m not saying you should constantly use this tool – the more sparing the better, in fact – as using it too much can make your writing (and your character) seem confused. It is tempting to avoid confusion but remember, sometimes real life is confusing.

The devil, as they say, is in the detail. Someone’s hair is rarely “brown” for example.

Victoria Watson  

So, fine people, if you could pop over to Amazon and check out Vic's novel here...

And visit her blog here...

That would be WONDERFUL!!




Sherry said...

I enjoyed this article! I'm glad to have found it through Twitter. Very informative and to the point. Love that. Thank you for sharing.

Sherry Foley

Jarmara Falconer said...

Thank you for sharing this with us.

Stu Ayris said...

It's always great to get the perspective of other writers. It's all about helping each other at the end of the day!

Graham Smith said...

Very helpful and insightful article Vic. Loved the idea of filling in forms as a way to establish character traits.