The One With The Most Character Wins


Me! I’ve got a character I like, want to spend time with, get to know better, and with a story that interests me. Well, actually, I’ve got two. One of the characters is someone I can start spinning lots of tales around right now, which is something I need, and another character that requires a lot of research if there’s going to be a good setting around her with more stories to tell.

I’ll state again just how surprised I am by the impact of having photos to look at. I wasn’t prepared for what a kick start that would be for my imagination, or the idea of making the characters state their case for a position in my thoughts and time.  And that person would be:

Photo by: savit keawtavee

Everything about her captured my attention and sparked my curiosity, which just might be the root of creativity (hmm, hadn’t thought about that before.  Writing is magic, it opens the Big Mouth Of Imagination before you have a chance to hush it up and behave).   She’ll no longer be named Robyn, but an element of  Robyn’story, as it’s already been sketched in my mind, is being extracted and made the central issue of her life, and the character trait that moves the story forward. I want to know what happens in her life, how she’s going to handle the situations she encounters, and that’s a very good sign for me, the writer.

There’s nothing worse than looking at the computer/blank sheet of paper and feeling dread well up from your gut. I’ve got none of that with this young woman, so that makes me the winner in this contest and a very happy camper.

That yippy-skippy feeling has to bleed into the writing of this project and this character. I don’t see how it can’t, which makes me feel ten kinds of bold for having tried a new approach. Even if it hadn’t worked out and I’d ended up with less focus and excitement, at least it would have shown me one way of doing things that doesn’t work for me.  And I’m sure I’ll have plenty of struggles as I go, but I’ve got that initial excitement nailed right here on this blog.  I’ll be returning for inspiration when the going gets tough.  Yay, blog!

The second character that fascinated me was what I now call my Research Ozark Protag.  Just to keep her face fresh for myself, I’ll post her photo again.

Photo by: graur codrin

She’s got the perfect can’t-help-myself exotic look that fits the character I’ve been thinking about.  And this photo has the perfect expression–serene, bemused, aloof yet compelling–that I wanted for my character.  She is the central character of the series of mystery novels I’ve set my sights on writing, but her surroundings are going to need a lot of research to make them real.  Why?  Because she ends up moving to Ozark, Arkansas, can’t believe she’s actually done such a thing, and that mirrors my life exactly.  I’m researching for her, and researching for myself.  (This radical move in our life will also be the subject of another blog I’m putting together.)  I also like research, but I’m not as good at it as I’d like to be, don’t have the tools and skills for getting below the surface and knowing the story in the tangled roots of a setting.  For this character and this series, the setting will be a central character because Arkansas is nothing I expected it to be, and as complex as any person I’ve ever met.  Look at this woman.  Does she look like a good ole country girl from Arkansas?  Right.  It’s going to take some work getting her puzzle pieces to fit with the puzzle that is Arkansas.

So there we have it, my first step in taking risks, and that’s what it’s all about. I think.  I hope.  I know. What the heck I’m doing. I don’t, but right now that’s not even a consideration.  I’ve got my character, she intrigues me, and my work is now fun and exciting.

That’s enough of that.  Time to hit Scrivener and start spending time with used-to-be-Robyn and discovering more about her.  It’s going to be a fun day…until I start tearing my hair out 😉

(Just a passing note: The memoir will always be on my mind, and I’ll always be writing bits and pieces along the way, but it’s not yet an official project. I’m just not ready to have what used to be as my central focus.)

4 thoughts on “The One With The Most Character Wins

  1. Sara Martin

    This is great! I love when we creative-types find new tricks to help us move forward (to rise above the “dread in our guts” you so aptly describe). Good luck and ride that inspired motivation for everything it’s worth!

  2. Cyd Madsen

    Thank you, Sara. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the encouragement. One of my favorite blogs is It’s a great source for getting rid of the box and start digging into divergent thinking. We’ve got to do that if we’re going to make it through this rapidly changing world.
    Hope you’re having a good one.

    1. Cyd Madsen

      I’ll try anything once…except okra 🙂 I’ve always pictured characters in my mind but have never gathered photos, even though I’ve known people who do. The “new” part for me was making them talk and prove they were interesting enough to spend my time and energy bringing to life.

      If you give it a try, I’d love to see you blog about it and read your experience with it.

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