Monday, June 21, 2010


It is very satisfying to discover the roots of a story. But, until now this weekend, I never really thought of characters as having roots other than the ones I deemed necessary for the story.  I have recently been reading "The Art of War for Writers," by James Scott Bell. It's full of strategies, tactics and exercises. What I like about it is that it's written in short sections which are easy yo fit into my day. It reminds me of things I already know and it gives me ideas on how to structure my writing time and things to try which will improve my skills. The exercises are very much open ended and apply to whatever project I have on hand.

On one section it mentions getting to know your characters by having them tell you about themselves, pg. 116. The first draft of my novel is incredibly rough and as I'm beginning work on it again, I wanted to get to know some of the characters a bit better. In order to do this I asked Lila, one of the main characters, to write me a letter and tell me about herself and her family. Especially as I came across some pointers in "The Art of War for Writers" about inner and outer conflict as well as outer action and inner reaction and I need to know my characters a lot better to make that work to it's fullest.

I discovered that one learns interesting things when actually conversing with ones characters, despite making them up. I was surprised to learn that Lila is the main character, Mira, in another short story I wrote about 5 years ago which is currently sitting in pieces because I have been unable to sew the pieces back together. She told me this was her story. She told me her father left and went back to England when she was 4 and that she only saw him in bits and pieces and never understood it until she was forced to spend a summer with her paternal grandfather after he died, when she was 11. The story, "Changing Tides," is about how she came to understand him and found her roots. She also told me she's pissed off that I put her in a novel with Sauri. I love it when my characters surprise me :)

About the photograph: The roots of this tree grow beside the trail going up Tunnel Mountain in Banff, AB. 

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