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The Art of Not Writing

I am not a professional writer.

None of us here are, so we're all -- to some extent -- learning as we go. As part of that learning, I've been reflecting more on my creative process than I have in the past. analane touched on this earlier in the month, but I thought I'd go into more detail regarding one aspect of our job in particular: how do we create our characters? More to the point, how do we figure out who they really are? How do we get to know them? Because that's what you have to do: know your character as though she was your closest friend.

Of course, methods will differ between writers. Some maybe take a walk and run over scenarios in their heads, working out how the character would react in each. Others might be inspired by real people and real interactions they experience in their everyday life. The really weird ones might role-play their characters to truly inhabit their skin; I assure you all of us here at Somnova Studios are perfectly well-adjusted, normal individuals and not the kind of huge nerds who would do something like that.

If you're a storyteller, and I believe everyone is, how do you get a feel for your characters? What's your secret?

All I can offer is my method: I listen to music. Lots of it. Not that I go out looking specifically for music that suits this purpose, but in listening casually, I come across the occasional song that embodies a character that I'm writing. I think it's the rawness of the emotion in music, but the right song strips away all the plans and conceptions I had of that character. It leaves me with a fragment of the bare, unrefined emotional core, and from there I can get to work. An entirely unintentional relationship, sure, but somehow every character I've ever written has at least one song that fits him or her more perfectly than anything I could have planned, and there's always more for me to learn, even about characters I thought I knew in and out.

And this is probably one of my biggest faults as a writer. Most of my writing process involves not writing. It's about sitting and reflecting, or listening to music while I do something unrelated to writing. I do that for the majority of the time, and when my inspiration batteries have filled to maximum capacity, I spew everything out in one messy go. I imagine that habit annoys my fellow writers to no end.

As an aside, I'm extra tickled that I signed up for this week's blog post ages ago, on this topic in particular, and when it finally arrives, it's a week when whole team is waiting on me to finish writing a couple of vital scenes. So here I am compounding my procrastination problem by working on a blog post instead. Whoops! Perhaps I should have written this in advance.

Did I mention I'm not a professional writer?

Courtesy of imperial.standard

- alabaster

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