Are you struggling to know what drives your characters? Do you wish you understood your own characters a little better? That’s exactly what we’re addressing on today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly!
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TUNE IN NOW to get a simple meditation for understanding your character better and getting to know them on a deeper level...
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Hello and welcome back to Indie Author Weekly! This is the podcast for indie authors, aspiring authors, and curious bookworms who want the inside scoop, tips and motivation, and the behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books. I’m your host, Sagan Morrow (or @Saganlives on Twitter & Instagram), and I’m a productivity strategist and an author of polyamorous romcoms.
Now, are you struggling with getting to know your character better? Well, that’s exactly what we’re addressing on today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly!
But first, don’t miss an episode: You can now get all Indie Author Weekly podcast episodes plus book and writing updates delivered directly to your inbox each week at SaganMorrow.com/behindthescenes—link is in the show notes.
Now let’s get into this episode of the Indie Author Weekly podcast. Today, I want to share a writing meditation for how to get to know your character better.
I did a general writing meditation back in Episode 93, which is designed to help you get into the right headspace for working on your writing projects, to overcome any overwhelm or writer’s block or demons that are holding you back from writing at this moment.
So today, I thought it might be helpful for you to have a writing meditation designed specifically for getting to know your main character—or any character—a little better. The better that we understand our characters, and what drives them, what they love and hate, how they make decisions and process experiences, why they do what they do, and so on, the better that we can develop a very nuanced understanding of them and vastly improve our writing and storytelling abilities as a result. Understanding what makes them tick on a very intimate level helps us to write characters that our readers LOVE. So this writing meditation is for empowering us to do that!
As you know if you’ve listened to previous episodes of Indie Author Weekly, I took some time off of writing my upcoming romcom, Small Town Stilettos, while I was focusing on other aspects of my business… so by the time I returned to my story, I really wanted to reconnect with my protagonist, Peggy. It’s great to spend time with your characters so we can get to know them better, which is why I created this simple character meditation so that you can do the same!
By the way—if you want to learn more about Small Town Stilettos, I encourage you to check it out on Goodreads and add it to your Want To Read list. You can search “Small Town Stilettos” on Goodreads, or click on the link in the show notes.
Before we get into the meditation itself, there’s just one more thing I want to mention: When I’m choosing episode topics here on Indie Author Weekly, I’d really love for it to be a more collaborative experience between us. Because I don’t always know what you want to hear more or less of!
So with that in mind, I really encourage you to answer my super quick survey with 3 multiple choice questions, to help me determine future episode topics. If there’s a particular style of episode you want more of, or less of, I want to know! Visit SaganMorrow.com/question to respond to that survey now—link is in the show notes.
Okay. Now, let’s get into this writing meditation so we can all get to know our characters better...
Let’s begin: Sit down somewhere comfortable, perhaps with your notebook and a pen or your computer close by, so you’ll be able to start writing when we’re finished. Quiet all distractions that might interrupt us for this short meditation. Get comfortable, perhaps lying down or sitting down; be restful. Close your eyes softly and settle into this experience.
Let’s take three deep breaths together: in… and out. In… and out. In… and out. Good.
For our purposes today, we’re going to focus on one character of your own creation. It can be the protagonist or the antagonist… it can be the best friend, or perhaps your main character’s cat, or a side character that appears in just one scene. Who is the first character of your own creation that comes to mind? Choose that one to focus on for this meditation. You can listen to this meditation again as many times as you wish to get to know a different character better, each time.
When you think of this one character, that character that comes to your mind for this meditation, what feelings do you associate with this character? How do they make you feel? What emotions come to mind when you think of this character? Focus on those thoughts and feelings and let them become stronger for you while we breathe together, three times: in… and out. In… and out. In… and out. Can you identify a few key emotions, thoughts, or feelings associated with this character? Good.
As you bring those to the forefront of your mind, visualize the type of expressions that are linked to those thoughts and feelings. How does your character express what they are thinking and feeling? Are their eyes wide open and inviting, or narrow and shrewd? Do they have tight, pursed lips, reminiscent of their disapproval, or are they smiling and cheerful? Do they have laugh lines around their eyes? What are they doing with their hands—do they gesture a lot to express themselves? What kind of body language do they use?
Let’s breathe together, three times, while you focus on this and bring it more strongly to your mind: in… and out. In… and out. In… and out. Good.
Now imagine that character standing in an empty white space. A blank slate of a room. A wide open space all around them. Let’s create the walls around them, first. What colour are they painted? What type of material is the wall? Brick or plaster? Are the walls chipped and rough, or are they freshly-painted, clean, new? What living environment does your character find themselves in, or what have they chosen for themselves? Can you see it, in your mind’s eye?
Now let’s add a bag filled with possessions to your character’s space. This is their desert island bag: their must-have essentials. If they can only have one bag in the world, and these are the only possessions they’re allowed to keep… what are they? What does the bag look like? Is it a high-end designer purse, an old duffel bag, a backpack? Is the zipper sticky, or is it a new bag?
When you open the bag, what do you find inside? What are the top three or five possessions you can see inside the bag? Has this character kept a framed photograph, or a family heirloom, or a stack of books, or purely practical items? What matters most to them?
As you’re doing this, you might find that you look up from the bag, and you can see the room around you more clearly than before. Perhaps it is no longer an empty room. Perhaps you can now see the type of furniture your character owns, the art they’ve hung on the wall, the way they’re arranged the room to represent their personality. What do you see? Can you hear a clock ticking, or music playing? Can you smell food cooking in the kitchen?
Let’s take three deep breaths together while you visualize this representation of the type of person they are: in… and out. In… and out. In… and out. Good.
Now that we know what your character is thinking and feeling, and how they express that, and the type of person they are today… let’s briefly go back in time. What brought them to this point? What is the first idea that jumps out at you? Were they influenced by a particular person in their life? Where did they attend school? Did they grow up with pets? What books were they reading and what music were they listening to as a child? What were some of the pivotal moments that you can see brought them to this point, to who they are today?
We’ll take three deep breaths as you experience their past: in… and out. In… and out. In… and out. Can you more strongly picture it in your mind’s eye? Can you see the patterns in their life? Can you understand how they got to this point where they are today?
As we wrap up this meditation, let’s take three more deep breaths together while you feel into that and sit with them: in… and out. In… and out. In… and out.
You can wiggle your fingers now and slowly open your eyes, coming back into the room. Welcome back!
How was that for you? What came up for you in getting to know your character better? Did anything surprise you? Post about this experience on Twitter or Instagram and be sure to tag me, @Saganlives. I’d love to hear what you learned about your character!
Like I mentioned earlier, you can go through this meditation as many times as you like for all kinds of different characters. It’s designed to help you understand what makes them tick, and you can go more deeply in any aspect of it to discover more elements about a particular character.
Don’t forget to answer that super quick multiple choice survey to let me know which episode type you want more and less of here on Indie Author Weekly—do that at SaganMorrow.com/question.
Lastly, if you enjoyed this meditation, then just a head’s up that you can actually access a series of productivity-based meditations—yes, for improving your time management and productivity skills, and for getting clarity on your goals!—when you join my signature program, Productivity Powerhouse. I’ve designed a set of 9 productivity meditations that are so powerful for your personal and professional life. So if that appeals to you, be sure to join Productivity Powerhouse at SaganMorrow.com/powerhouse, and you’ll get the opportunity to access the meditations that go along with it, too.
All right. That, my friend, is a wrap for today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly! Access the show notes for this episode, including all links and additional resources, at SaganMorrow.com/podcast.
Thank you so much for tuning in. Please take 2 minutes to rate and review Indie Author Weekly on Apple Podcasts—I really appreciate your support.
Until next week, this is Sagan Morrow, signing off the Indie Author Weekly podcast.