Getting Into Character – Writing With All Your Heart

Hey everyone!

Photo by Natalie Welts
Photo by Natalie Welts

Yikes, there I go again with larger gaps between posts.  I do so apologize for that, though in my defense, I was on vacation in Los Angeles for 8 days :D  A much, much needed vacation, too…

And in the spirit of Hollywood, a thought occurred to me recently as I was putting in the last edits for Burning Skies.  (Yes, you read right – the final edits for Burning Skies are in progress!!!)  How much do you, my fellow writers, get into character when you write?

I’ve written before about how much of our own voice goes into the narration, but what about the other direction?  When you write your stories, do you write clinically?  As in, are you impartial as you go?  Or do you “become” your characters, in mind and in heart?

Actors do it all the time.  And as I experiment more and more with my voice for the purposes of audio books, I find that I also have to ‘get into character’ when I read dialogue.  For that matter, as I’ve discussed before, the narrator too is a unique voice and character in the story.  I’m teaching myself to, well, not be myself when I read out loud.

The more I think about it, the more I believe this has been happening, without me even thinking about it, when I write.  Anyone who has read my stories knows that I prefer third-person limited perspective.  That limited perspective is what is key for me, because it focuses in on one character at a time, rather than omniscient.

In Burning Skies, there is a perfect example, though I am hesitant to share too many details (as the good Professor River Song likes to say, “Spoilers!”) Yet there is one detail I am so excited to share, one which I have tried to keep under wraps until now…

The Return of Kailar

Kailar (if TSOD became a movie :D )
Kailar (if TSOD became a movie :D )

Everyone expects Cardin Kataar to return – he is, after all, the protagonist.  But what of Kailar?  What happened to her following the conclusion of book 1?  Did she go to prison for life?  Was she executed?

Well, now, that is a spoiler I am not willing to give.  But she is back, and her story will occupy almost half of Burning Skies, just as it did in The Sword of Dragons.  I have much, much more that I intend to do with her character :D

In a way, I was excited to begin to explore more deeply into her character.  Much of which included some highly emotional moments.  And as I wrote each of those powerful moments in the story, I’ve found myself feeling the same emotions she did.  Every pang of anger, sense of loss, sense of helplessness, as I wrote each scene with her, I felt those myself…

I wrote these chapters almost two years ago, yet the memory remains fresh in my mind.  But I am not Kailar.  I have not experienced what she has.  I was never a Mage, nor a Warrior.  I never commanded orcs, I never fought armies, and I have not experienced having my powers stripped from me.

So instead, I drew upon my own experiences, the ones that made me feel just as powerless, helpess, useless…experiences that have shaped me, sometimes for the best, sometimes not, but ultimately have made me who I am.  And I used those memories to become Kailar as I wrote those pages.

The same is true for Cardin.  And Dalin.  Sira, Reis, every character whose perspective I have written in The Sword of Dragons and Burning Skies, and including the characters from The Orc War Campaigns.

And yes…though perhaps I should not admit this, this means that I have shed tears while writing in public places (I never write at home, I am usually at a coffee shop when I am writing.)  I don’t know if anyone noticed, I don’t know what people might have thought, but when I’m in the moment, writing those chapters furiously, my fingers flying across the keyboard in a flurry of creativity, I don’t care what’s going on around me.  The world disappears, and there’s just me and the characters.

Write With Passion

If ever there was advice I could give to fellow writers, it is this: write with all of your heart.  Infuse your passion, your love for writing, your love for what you are writing about, into every word, every paragraph.  When your readers open your book, make the pages explode into action before them, engross them, make them lose themselves in every character, every action.

Become the characters when you write.  Make them occupy you, as you occupy them.  Think like them.  Feel like them.  And if you can do this successfully, you will make your readers feel.  That is what draws me into stories.

After all, anything worth doing, is worth doing with all of your heart :)

Thanks for reading!  And keep an eye out: Burning Skies is coming out soon, so that means cover reveals, character reveals, and more :D

writing-dragon
Couldn’t help but include this in this article :D

-Jon Wasik

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2 thoughts on “Getting Into Character – Writing With All Your Heart”

  1. I ain’t never wrote no book and my acting career ended with a (co-starring!) role in a cinematography-majoring friend’s semester project (“final exam”) way back in our kollige days. But I think an author is responsible for ALL the characters; an actor only his / her role(s). Different scope / different immersion.

    1. Interesting, I hadn’t thought of it like that, but you’re right.

      …so does that mean the best authors suffer from multiple personality disorder?? ;-)

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