Friday, July 3, 2009

Squashing my Inner Nerd

I wasn’t cool in….well, ever. I was on the newspaper and literary magazine staff. I hung out with people in high school that are now architects, IT people, CPAs….but definitely not whatever the cheerleaders and football players became. (Politicians? What did those folks become? Inquiring minds want to know…)

I’m a nerd.

In my Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink, my protagonist, in some ways, is an elderly nerd. I completely relate to her. She makes funny literary references, she’s a retired English teacher….I get Myrtle.

But not all of my characters are Myrtles. I have characters that are rednecks, theologians, blue collar workers, wealthy do-gooders, etc.

How do you handle writing different personality types?

I squash my inner-nerd. Sometimes it’s a pleasure to do so. Really.

I explore different personalities by imagining what it would be like to be them. Sort of like playing dress-up when you were a kid.

When I really dislike someone, I write it down. Usually if I don’t like them, it’s because the person is 180 degrees different from me. And a wonderful character, for that very reason.

I model a character on someone I know. And, naturally, completely change the character so they’re not recognizable to the person who inspired it.

I model a character on someone I wish I could be. When we’re looking in the mirror in the morning and wish we could see someone more glamorous or more adventurous in there….well, here’s our chance.

There’s no resume required when writing characters. It’s nice to use our imaginations to fill in the blanks. And…..we’re writers. We get to make things up.