As my husband and I are in the process of decluttering and downsizing I am finding so many tidbits here and there that evoke so many memories. Each time I come across a school project that one of my (now grown) offspring did in school I automatically picture them at that age – I swear it’s like a photo just flashes in front of me. I’ve come across so many other memorable treasures as well, some that make me laugh and others that set the tears in my eyes.
Memories are super strong motivators.
I try to give my characters strong memories, even when I don’t share the actual memory with my readers, I know what is in that character’s heart and I let it steer her reactions and feelings. In His LuckyCharm and Within the Law Caitlyn is very motivated by her memories (she is the heroine in His Lucky Charm, her cousin Tom is the hero of Within the Law). Her strongest memory in both stories is about the parents she lost as a little girl from a car accident. The loss doesn’t stifle her but it does make parts of the story very poignant.
In another story, Final Sin, Julie, a paramedic, is very driven in her independence and being a modern woman because of her memories of overprotective and overbearing older brothers. At the same time Jake, her love interest and a homicide-investigating sheriff, is haunted by the failure of his first marriage and his desire not to let his son suffer because of the discord with his ex-wife.
In a previous life I was a Theatre and Drama student (yes, at one time I aspired to act on stage) and it was common to be taught using the Stanislavski Method Acting System. Stanislavski (real name: Constantin Sergeyvich Alekseyev) wanted actors to have sincere motivation behind every action they took on stage. It wasn’t enough for a director to tell them to slam a door, Stanislavski wanted them to actually feel the anger behind the movement. If they needed to cry in the scene he wanted them to remember the sorrow they may have experienced in their own lives.
When I create a character I compose a basic dossier (the more major the character the more detailed the history) so I know what motivates them, what scares them, what makes them happy, and what drives them in all of their interactions. Often I think of my own memories to understand what would evoke the different emotions in my character’s life, and yes, there are many times I cry or laugh right along with them. In Within the Law Tom goes to visit the grave of his high school sweetheart and fiancé, my character wasn’t the only one with tears in his eyes.
Like Stanislavski’s methods, I believe that if my characters are genuine in their emotions then my readers can believe in them and can be involved in the story. Reading a book is supposed to be a little like taking a vacation from the real world, but it’s also supposed to be more than just reading words. I hope that by employing Stanislavski’s Method Acting to my writing I can (stealing a line from Calgon here) take my readers away for just a little while.
|Author Chelle Cordero|