Hobbies, Talents, Characters and Me...
Now in creating characters that seem real to the audience I've found that the more real and reachable the characters are (i. e. they're like people you know or might meet) they're the ones that the readers seem to really relate to and even come to love. Now one method I've used to make my characters seem more human and real is to give them traits that are familiar, and even somewhat odd but intriguing. I've given characters hobbies or activities I've tried. When they are finished with what I've written, some have even gone and done research of their own on the activity. Some have even taken it up and made it a part of their lives.
But how did that happen? Simple, whether it's playing a sport, roller-blading, painting, dancing, singing, or whatever, you have a wealth of experience and knowledge from those activities to draw upon. How does that activity make you feel while your doing it? What's going through your mind? Is it something you share with others and if so, what's happening inside your head at that moment when you unveil your talent/hobby? Are you nervous? Are you proud? How fast is your heart racing? Do you have any nervous ticks or tap fingers or anything like that while you're waiting for a verdict? If it's a positive reaction, what happens to you? And even more importantly how do you take criticism or a well-thought critique? Here you have a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw upon. I like to take some of that and bestow it upon my characters.
Now I want to point out, that the activity or skill doesn't have to be one you've done persoanlly and know a lot about. I mean let's face it, I don't know how to do macrame or glass-blowing. But the thrill and intensity of the emotions of creation are still the same. If I'm writing about something I'm really familiar with I'll throw in some personal knowledge and techniques into the scene, but it's not a pre-requisite. However, when I'm writing about something I'm not familiar with I do my research. I learn some of the jargon and get some rough ideas of what goes into the skill. And if possible, I try to find someone who actually does it and get their thoughts and insights (and with their permission use some of it in my writing). It's okay to get input from elsewhere folks, don't be afraid to ask questions. Most artisans, athletes, or whoever are usually more than willing to share a bit about their talent with you.
But in the meantime, look upon your own experiences in life to find the emotional highs and lows, the frustration, the concentration, the nervousness and lend some of that to your characters. Believe me, it makes them more human and real to the reader. Because from their point of view they are watching someone who is dedicated to a craft, even if the character is a supposed "Expert" the emotions and intensity is still the same as they create. I've seen artists working on a piece that I thought was exceptional, only to have them turn away in disgust because it's not up to what they envisioned. I've even known a few to trash what they've done completely to start over. Not a pretty sight sometimes I can tell you. But when they get to that point when the new piece is reaching the pinnacle of what they had in mind, the expression on their face and the energy in the room is something else.
Now all of what I've been talking about today has been going through my head for months now. And it has lead me to some decisions and thought about myself. I'm planning to try and have more adventures and experiences in the coming months/years. There are things I've thought about doing but never tried before such as Kayaking, I've never done it before but I have a friend who raves about it so I'm going to give it a try. Plus my wife keeps talking about trying it as well, so it's in the planning stages.
Another thing I'm thinking about is Para-Sailing and Hang-Gliding. Now I'm not good with heights, but these activities are available in and around where we're living now. And they take place on and above the sandy dunes near but not over the water (because the undercurrents are treacherous around here). And from my point of view, sand is a lot better to possibly crash into than solid ground or a stony canyon so I'm willing to give it a go. Even if the entire experience scares the hell out of me, I'll have something knew to write about and use with a character down the road.
In the meantime, I'll be sharing some videos soon about hobbies and things I'm already very familiar with very soon. And in the process I'll be letting you know a bit more about me and who I am and what makes me the person I've become. So, please stay tuned and KEEP WRITING!