Make your characters come alive with a character journal
I’ve been working on my fantasy novel lately and feeling as if I need to get closer to my protagonist. Scenes have been clicking along but I was starting to feel that some of my protagonist’s feelings and reactions to what is happening around her need to come out more.
Expanding on an idea I first heard about from author James Scott Bell, I decided to start a daily journal from the point of view of Caitlin, my protagonist.
My plan is that when I’m done writing a scene or a segment of a scene, I’ll take five minutes and write in her journal about how she feels about what just happened.
My first entry looks like this:
Question: How do I feel about the lizard lady and the river road people?
Answer (thinking and writing as Caitlin): “I can’t believe it. I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me. I mean, yes, sometimes I can see people’s energy grids and move them around a bit but I’ve never seen anything like what the lizard lady did.”
As you can see, there’s nothing earth-shattering in the above entry. But from this short note, I added the paragraph below to my existing scene:
She was starting to get on my last nerve. “How did you do that?” I asked. “I mean, how did you steal his energy like that?” Sure, I could sometimes see and move an animal’s or person’s energy grid around but what this woman had done was incredible. If my ability was a gust of wind, hers was a hurricane.
I don’t need to go into a long, detailed interior monologue on how my character feels. A few lines here and there that show her reaction or feelings will give the reader what they need to know without fire hosing them with too much information.
Try it. Keep a daily diary for your character to explore her feelings and reactions. I guarantee your characters will become more interesting.
Soon, I’ll start a journal for my antagonist so I can get to know him better. Now that sounds like fun!