Central Florida Romance Writers hosted an all day workshop by Alicia Rasley on Channeling your Character. Since for me, the book is nothing without characters I can care about, I found the hours well spent.
I loved her opening quote … "Fiction is true, just not real."
We identify with characters at a subconscious level, so she suggests writing in the 1st person POV of the character to get to know them (regardless of which POV you use in the book). She went on to hand out a list of 19 questions, such as, "How would a casual acquaintance describe your personality? How would the description be wrong? Why? What if your mother was doing the describing? Your spouse?" Other questions on the list covered knowing oneself, self esteem, fear, keeping secrets, trust, family role, and many more.
She said we all choose disguises of who we'd like to be. Who we really are is a mixture of who we think we are and who we want to be.
People who test others are probably testing themselves.
Our goals are clues to our inner selves, but they are external.
Our inner life affects how we behave in our outer life.
Her example was a flower: The stem represents goals (outer life), while the roots that support the plant represents our inner life. In writing, the statement and achievement of a goal can't be a straight line. And, she points out, achieving the goal should never entirely fulfill the inner motivation. Goals provide the ending of the book. A character might achieve the goal, but the result shouldn't be what they expected. Also, how they react when they don't achieve a goal is important. Their inner motivation will still be there. In romance, "Love" is often seen as the solution, but it's a motivation, not the goal. So, we need to take the internal goals and motivations and show them externally.
The opening scene is where the author uncovers and the reader discovers. We want readers to ask questions. Contradictions show the complexities of characters. Remember to give characters room to grow. They should be less than perfect in the opening scenes. She stressed that they don't need to act "properly" but their underlying intentions must be good in order for the reader to care about them.
She suggests that if a character doesn't do the "right" thing, that we write the scene in that POV to show that the impulses are correct even if the actions aren't.
I'll post more notes tomorrow.