May 13th, 2009
Whose Head am I in Today?

This morning I heard an author on NPR (don’t know who, sorry) say something to the effect that a writer should always put themselves in the place of their audience when writing. I got me to thinking (this is the part where you should run away and hide).

I do think of my audience when I’m writing, but it’s usually before I start a novel, when I’m the plotting/outlining stages. For example, I write paranormal romance. That means an HEA is a must or I will be strung up by my neck by my readers and left to die a slow, choking death. There also other considerations when crafting a story for the romance reader that I always take into account when plotting and planning. Sexual tension, placement of love scene, character development, ect…

But once I start writing, I’m really not thinking about y’all anymore. ;) At least, not when I’m sitting there looking at my MS. When I write, I’m not in the head of my audience; I’m in the head of the POV character I’m writing at that moment.

Creative visualization is a must-have tool for a fiction writer. The ability to place yourself in the environment your character is in, to smell what they smell, see what they see, hear what they hear. The hardest thing about this is, of course, thinking the way they think because those characters are not you. They have different backgrounds, different ways of seeing the world, are driven to make decisions differently than you would. The mark of a skilled writer is getting the reader to believe the characters, but in order to do that (in my opinion) the writer has to be fully in the head of the character, not the reader, when they’re writing.

This is on my mind right now because I’m writing an especially tricky character right now—two of them, actually. It’s easier when a character is sort of like me. I can name a few of my heroines to whom, were they real people, I’d probably relate pretty well. Then there are characters like, oh, Daria from The Chosen Sin, who are so different from me that they’re a real challenge to write. That’s okay, I like challenges. Prefer them, in fact. Makes the experience more interesting.

Right now I’m writing a historical fantasy ménage a trois romance for Berkley Heat called JEWELED. There are three main characters in this story. The two characters the story opens with are Evangeline and Anatol. Both of them are challenging characters, who have worldviews much different than mine. The challenge is keeping their POVs true and not letting too much of my own personality seep into them. I really have to get deep into their heads to write them.

So, you see, as much as I love you all and appreciate the absolute hell out of you and HOPE like a crazy person you like the end result, I am not thinking of you when I’m writing. Or of myself, for that matter. I’m only thinking of the fictional character on the page and trying to get them right.

2 comments to “Whose Head am I in Today?”

  1. Hm, I think what the other author said was interesting… but … I can’t even picture it. It’d take a real schizo, (and I mean that nicely?) considering the vast array of readers out there. Also, I feel like the story would suffer. Or the characters would be pretty schizo. One page, they’d be all “I’M ACTION HERO” the next like “I’m Mr./Mrs. Home maker!” … I’m going to stop now. Yes, an important consideration, but I think as the driving force? Major train wreck of a story.


  2. I agree with you. You can’t think what the others want from the book, you have to do what your characters are supposed to do to stay true to them and to the story. As limecello sad before, different readers expect different stuff, you can’t indulge them all, you just have to stay true to the story.