Character Category Archive

Lesson From My Dogs

First, I won! Pia Bernardino hosted a contest on her blog ( and I won a $10 gift card to Amazon. How amazing is that.  I’m going to have to put some good thought into what books to get…hmm…

Sometimes, in my writing, I have a hard time with silence and have to put a lot of work into sections where I do not have dialogue.  I try to put time and thought into what a characters mannerisms are that will make them unique, so if a reader only reads their movements or thoughts they will immediately know which character it is.  This is a lesson I have learned from my dogs (and have to continue working at!!).

Prefontaine is my Boston mix (both dogs are rescue mutts) she has a firecracker personality.  I don’t mean she’s loud and rambunctious, but she is intense.  She always lets you know what she is thinking and feeling.  She’s the dominant female of the family and often butts Piglet out of the way so she can get attention.  This includes crawling on top of Pig if she’s cuddling with me.  When she’s happy she squiggles; she’ll roll onto her back and twist back and forth, grunting.  She’ll belly crawl across the carpet with a huge smile on her face in the morning.  I’ve never seen a dog so happy to wake up for the day.  Along with her happiness, comes an opposite pouty nature.  She lets you know when she’s mad.  If I go out on a run and don’t take her I come back to her sitting on her dog bed.  Her head will be down and she won’t come see me for an hour, at least not until I am fully punished.  Pre also does not like carrots.  She’ll sniff and push her head away to tell you so.

Piglet (German Shepherd/Pitt Bull mix), on the other hand, is not an attention seeker.  She often lays at the opposite end of the couch and does not like cuddling all that much.  She’ll give kisses, but they’re tentatively given- you can tell she thinks hard about who and when she’ll give them out.  She snorts when she’s happy, when she’s sleeping, and when she’s getting her belly scratched.  She loves nothing better than swimming and running off leash when we’re at the trails.  Often, she’ll disappear in the house and we’ll find her asleep on our bed.  It seems to be her ‘safe’ place.  Not much bothers or upsets her, she seems to be even keel in emotion.  She also has refused to learn how to walk on a leash so we have to walk her on a harness, which she absolutely hates and backs away from when we start putting it on.

How much do you learn from someone from their body language, without talking to them?  Quite a lot.

The happiness tip for today isn’t really a happiness tip, but a piece of advice for writing.  I have real life inspiration for my character, Rupert.  To get to know Rupert better, I sat and watched my inspiration and wrote pages purely on his mannerisms and things that made him unique.  After that, I picked out the ones that were Rupert.  My advice, is to take time getting to know your characters actions, the parts that make them interesting and be sure that is put into your writing.  This will develop those characters in your readers’ imaginations and will stick much better than any dialogue!

Rupert’s Voice

At some point in the past week I have become unhappy with how “Rupert” is developing, both as a book and as a character.  I am roughly half way through my first draft, and the past couple thousand words have felt forced and lacking…something.  I finally realized yesterday what that something was – Rupert’s lost his voice.

Or more correctly, I’ve lost his voice.

I read “Island of the Blue Dolphins” this week and was completely blown away by the voice Scott O’dell creates for his main character, Karana.  I completely believed I was reading the thoughts and experiences of this girl, that every word he wrote was not a word but a moment.  After reading this book, it hit me that while writing, I completely bulldozed over telling his story and was more concerned with having a finished product.

Karana, from “Island of the Blue Dolphins” showed me that it’s time for me to spend some quality time with Rupert outside of the story I think I want to tell.

Every piece of writing has a different voice, this is what makes every book interesting and unique.  I could write a story on- let’s say dogs – and so could you.  Even if we both wrote on exactly the same dog the stories would turn out completely different.  This is because of the voice we would write through.

Voice is influenced by personality, experience, color, and tone.  The voice of writing changes for every piece of writing someone creates.  Perhaps this is why I have begun to test different styles of writing, so I am able to develop my own voice further.

Here is a good example of what I don’t know about Rupert and definitely should for me to write his voice:

Rupert’s parents are away on a very long trip and he lives with his aunt.  I told this fact to Cale and he, of course, asked why he wasn’t with them.  All I could do was shrug and say, I don’t know.  I know where his parents are and what they are doing, but I have no idea why they did not bring him with.  This is probably very important and is definitely something that would affect a real child!

Even if I know my own personal voice, that certainly doesn’t mean I know Rupert’s.  Rupert is the filter through which I tell the story.  It is definitely time for me to sit back, learn who he is, and get out of the way so he can tell his story through my fingers.