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  • Denise Spencer

Getting to Know Your Characters

My writing tends to be character driven, rather than plot driven. We're all different. Some writers plot their books meticulously before writing a single word; others wing it; and other start with a sketchy plot, with plot beats in all the right places, and wait to see how the story develops. I fall into the third category having (thankfully) progressed from winging it, but whichever kind of author you are, the plot will fall apart if your characters don't sing. We write because we can't NOT write, but we also write because we want to reach readers. There is no better feeling than a book review that shows your writing has left an impression, right? And to achieve this, we need the reader to care about our characters.

When I began writing I am Winter, I'd already lived with my protagonist Summer in my head for a while. She felt real to me. When I was out walking my dog, I pictured Summer coming over to pet him and even carried out conversations in my head with her. Often, while speaking to my daughters, I imagined Summer's reaction compared to theirs. I found out what she wanted most in the world. I asked her what she was afraid of. I learnt that she preferred pizza to cereal for breakfast, that she gave up dance class because she felt too skinny, that her dream job would be working at a dog rescue centre.

Then one rainy day, I thought about whether she would stay inside or grab a pair of wellies and splash in puddles, and the scene between Summer and Ritchie came to life.

Speak to your characters. Close your eyes and listen to what they're telling you. Go outside and splash in puddles with them and see what happens.

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