Thursday, April 29, 2010

Further Fidgeting and Fretting

As I said yesterday, fidgeting is something distinctive and unique to each person. The hard thing about having distinctive fidgets when one is pretending to be someone else on stage is that your character, being a different person, is not going to fidget the way you do. I know I'm having some difficulty removing my particular mannerisms and frets from my characters so that they can each be unique. And this got me thinking, I've got to do the same thing with my writing.

When I write, I need to get inside my character's heads and find out how they think, speak, and move. They obviously won't do any of these things just like the other characters. They're their own people. They're not each other, and they're certainly not me.

One thing I've noticed rewriting The Thief Book is that a lot of the main characters are sharing a particular mannerism of mine. Arching an eyebrow.

One of the things that frustrates Captain Film Major about me is my incessant use of my eyebrows. My friends in high school used to tell me that I'm fluent in Eyebrow. They might have a point. Using my brows, I can communicate, "Are you serious?!", "Would you please get over here now!", "What? I'm confused," "I am intrigued. Tell me more," "You're so totally into him/her." It's an expressive language.

But, here's the deal, Charlotte isn't me. Leo isn't me. DiSpirito isn't me. So, unlike me, they're not all going to be communicating with Eyebrow. (Unlike English, it's not a widely spoken language. The other fluent speakers seem to be The Other One and my best friend, though others I know are conversational. Which means, unlike English, I can't reasonably expect my characters to know it.) They're unique individuals, and I have to respect that and let them communicate as they would.

Writers must expunge their own characteristics from the book. While some of oneself can fall into the book, not every character should look like a replica of the author. The characters need to develop into full personages on their own, with their own fidgets and ticks, not the author's.

Do you ever have notice yourself or your mannerisms randomly appearing in your work? How do you deal with that? Do you ever find the author or his or her ways sporadically appearing in his or her work?

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