And J.A. Belfield, author of Darkness & Light is responsible. Seeing as I can’t convince her to come back tomorrow, I’m letting her infiltrate my blog tonight. I have no idea what she’s going to talk about so it will be a treat for us all.
Miss Julie . . . ramble on my dear to your heart’s content. My blog is yours. 🙂
SHORT STORIES AS A TOOL
Know what I’m talking about?
Nah, me neither, most of the time, but I’ll give it a good go and explain what I mean by my title.
For those of you who write novels:
The moment an idea pops into my head, I’m almost chomping at the bit to get something down on paper (or screen). Whether it be an insight into the character who paid my mind a visit, the opening page/paragraph/chapter (in some cases, the entire story) pours from my fingertips.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be exactly the same.
However, if you’re dealing with characters who are new to you, then short stories are a great way to get to know them first.
Still wondering what the heck I’m waffling on about?
Okay, I’ll give you an example.
Blue Moon is the second novel in The Holloway Pack series. At the end of that—right at the very, very, very end—when a final loose end is being tied, the reader is introduced to a character they haven’t met before.
Inadvertently, through her, they are also introduced to another new character.
I tend to do that kind of thing a lot.
Something will slip into my writing, a little detail, a reference made by a character, a new character will show their face whilst seeming so below the radar they could have no relevance to the tale … but, I assure you, there is always an underlying depth to all these little details that slip in.
Even if the place to expand on them doesn’t arrive in the novel in which they’re first mentioned, they always hold more importance than it appears at first glance.
That certainly was the case of those new guys in Blue Moon. I knew I hadn’t seen the last of them.
I’d opened up a whole new can of worms (translate: potential story fodder) by bringing them in.
And, within days, I knew they would end up reappearing in the third book of the series—just like I also knew that, in order for me to correctly portray them, I would need to spend a little time getting to know them first.
I wrote them a short story.
All for them.
A 3k-odd short story dedicated to their back story, dedicated to how they came to be, dedicated to giving me a powerful look into their lives prior to their first appearance.
It turned out to be worth the effort.
Not only had I successfully written my first short story (one that went on to become the first short story I managed to sell), but I had a deeper understanding of who I was dealing with when the time came to write about them in greater proportions. Believe me when I say: that inside knowledge made the job a whole lot easier.
They aren’t the only guys I have done this for—although, the ‘short story’ has been known to develop into a novella on occasion—and each time I have found myself better equipped to deal with ‘who’s next’ on my list to be revealed.
Trust me. Give it a go.
What exercises do you apply to help you get to know your characters better? Willing to share?