I'm co-teaching a course called Monsters and Mayhem this Winter with the amazing Sue Williams (check her blog in the sidebar). Last night, Sue led us on a wonderful visualization that helped me discover who one of the newest (and most fragile) characters in my fantastical short story collection is. (Yes, I am working on a short-story collection AND a novella. It's crazy but somehow it works for me)
So I thought, I'd post a shortened version of a visualization (for the real Sue Williams treatment, you'll have to come to our class) that could help transform a character from page to reality.
Close your eyes.
Imagine you are in a barren field. There is no one around but you and your character.
It is deepest, darkest night and the only way you can know anything about the physicality of your character is to touch it.
Move closer to your character.
How does it react to being closed in upon?
Does its breathing change?
What changes manifest in its body that you can sense without seeing?
Move even closer.
Reach out and feel your character's skin.
Is it warm? Cool? On fire? Caked with dust?
What's going on beneath the surface of the skin--what changes can you physically feel happening as you run your hands along the character's body?
What happens when you touch your character?
Do they try to move away? Push you away? Cover themselves?
Or do they move toward you?
What do you hear? Does your character's breath change? Speed up? Slow down? Purr? Huff?
What does your character say to you?
How does your character WANT to be touched?
Soon everything disappears but you and the character.
Open your eyes. Free-write about the experience you just had with your character.
What did you discover?
Anytime you feel like there's something missing, something about your character that is unknown or simply not working, try closing your eyes and going somewhere else with you them.
They'll tell you everything you need to know.