As said yesterday, I role played with a friend for some five to six years. What I found out during this time focused mainly on characters.
Before, my characters let themselves be swept along with whatever happened. If someone beat them up, they didn’t really care. If someone lied to them, well, okay. I tried writing a story where the character was the target of a certain fellow student’s torment and for the life of me, I could not get her to fight back. I could not understand her anger at the the injustice he did to her.
Soon actually, after I began role playing, I began to discover that there is always internal torment involved with characters. This character was tricked to and lied by one of his closest friends (who also happened to have “killed” his family), and when he found out, he hated her but he also felt so incredibly depressed. I learned, through role playing, how to react with that character and for a long time, he hurt.
Now, I’m not perfect at that skill yet of internal conflict, but I’m aware of it at least, whereas before it became more of a case of it nothing. Now, the art of writing them in and how to show it is much more difficult.
Letting the Characters Talk
Also, I learned to listen to my characters. My mom, in particularly, says that it is silly. But there is a certain art to learning your characters and letting the characters speak themselves. The characters are not pawns for us to move as we wish. They are there to help us tell the story.
A great example of why this is important is the book Eragon. In the book, the main character Eragon would seem perfectly content and happy one minute and the next go insanely made about something. I actually believe that him not listening to his characters is one of the faults of his book. (I never read the second two, so maybe he got better.)
It’s because of characters listening to you that you can learn if one character likes another (I once, much to my dismay, forced married two characters. I never felt his passion for her as much as I felt it from others.). YOu can learn the background of a character. In this story I’m writing now (Dragon Slayers), I knew almost as soon as I met one of the Dragon Slayers, that he came from a rather well-to-do background and was the youngest son. How did I? I don’t know. But I did. Characters want to tell their story.
(Now, that whole idea might sound like I’m crazy but honestly, I’m not. And when I listen to other authors talk about how they write, I can hear them pretty much saying that the characters talk to them. It’s not verbal but it’s more a gut instinct.)
Get excited about what you’re writing.
Sometimes, people think that they have to wait until they do A and B and C and D and E in order to get to F. But F is going to be a really awesome scene. This undesire to write the earlier scenes might mean that they aren’t actually needed. You might think you need to do them, but in actually, they aren’t needed.
This goes back to the idea of editing and learning when to actually delete.
So, although I’m sure I’ve learned other things, the biggest and most valuable thing I learned was all about characters. What makes up a character, how to develop a character, how to show emotions through dialogue of a character. Characters are probably the most important part of a book. YOu can have some incredible description, and some awesome lessons, but unless the characters are good, many people won’t even read it.