Getting Inside My Character’s HeadsThanks so much for having me on Books Etc., Kaley. I follow your blog pretty often so it’s pretty cool to be a guest today!!
When I wrote my first novel, Just Friends with Benefits, it was fairly easy to get into the head of my main character, Stephanie Cohen. That was because when I wrote Just Friends with Benefits, I sort of inserted myself into a fictional story about a woman named Stephanie. I got Stephanie into more trouble than I’ve experienced personally and I like to think I’d be smart enough to avoid a few of the mistakes she made, however, when I wrote Stephanie’s reactions to things, I often asked myself, “Self – how would you react under these same circumstances?” and I went from there.
For instance, Stephanie tended to overanalyze things Ad Nauseum, especially statements or small actions from men. I had a tendency to do the same - before I evolved J. Stephanie tended to drown her sorrows in drinks with friends, multiple rolls of sushi and a vigorous run on the treadmill. I do the same. If there was a full glass of water on the table, Stephanie would be the one to accidentally knock it over. That’s usually my role among my friends and family. This was not the case when I wrote about Jane Frank, the main character of my second novel, A State of Jane. Jane Frank and Meredith Schorr have very little in common personality-wise so it was not simply a matter of looking inside myself to see what I would say/do given a specific set of circumstances. I basically had to become Jane while writing the novel. And that is, in a nutshell, what I do while writing. I don’t know how I do it – certainly not by hypnosis or any magic spell but it just happens. When I write, I become my main character (assuming I am not already her)… Jane Frank is a Type A, list-making, neat-freak who, at least when introduced to the reader, truly believes that if you do everything “right”, things will work out just as you want them to. Perhaps it is a result of her upbringing. She grew up the youngest daughter of an upper middle class happily married couple. She met her first boyfriend at 16 and stayed with him until she was 25. She works as a paralegal but has a job in her daddy’s law firm waiting for her when she graduates law school. And her older sister met the love of her life and is trying to start a family and follow in her mother’s footsteps. This is how life is supposed to look to Jane and she sees no reason why anything should get in the way of that. I knew all of this when I started A State of Jane and took it all into consideration when writing what decision, judgment call or choice Jane would make, how she would react to disappointment, how she might respond to her world crumbling around her. I must confess it was kind of fun watching the world slam the door in Jane’s face for a little while. It was also rewarding to see how she resolved her issues and, in doing so, became a better person. As Jane grew up, I almost felt like I grew up a little too. I guess that’s what happens when you become your main character! Quite the incentive for the Happily Ever After ending J