Today is actually a writing post. Thanks to blog follower, Kaurie, for asking this question: how do you go about writing your different characters, and how it is different writing a man or a woman?
One of my favorite things besides world building is developing characters. I'm one of those writers who believe there is no hard and fast rule for what process you use to write or how you develop your stories/characters. The end result -- a good story with engagaing world and characters -- can be accomplished in many different ways.
When I develop my characters, I dig pretty deep. Whether it's notes on their background, personality, quirks, etc.. or learning about them as I write by the seat of my pants, I always have a good sense of who they are in my mind. If you think of your characters as real, dynamic people (or beings), writing about them comes pretty easily. Because, really, how boring would it be to write the same character type over and over again? When I write from one character to another, I find it refreshing to switch gears, to get into another mode. I look forward to this or else, like I said, it'd be a total snooze-fest.
Some characters I develop completely in my head. Some I make notes for. Some I have gone so far as to think of very detailed traits that highlight their individuality. For instance, it's not in the book, but Charlie thinks Wendy's square hamburger patties are unnatural. It's just NOT right! They should be round! :-) She'd declare this laughing, of course, because she knows it's funny and silly. But, digging deeper, there is a desire in her for order. She has a need to compartmentalize things, to put things in their place. In the world she lives in, she has to accept the unnatural, the crazy things she sees, does, and has to deal with... so this need for order in other ways shows itself, even in humorous ways.
On a real level, we'll use me. Every single time I go into a hotel room, one of the first things I do is untuck the sheets and blankets, walking all the way around the bed and pulling them out. I hate for my feet to feel pulled down by tucked-in blankets. It feels like I'm trapped. Now this could simply be a trait that makes me a little different, or if we dug deeper, we might learn why I don't want to be trapped, why I need to feel free, maybe something happened in my past that gave me this anxiety over feeling trapped. Sometimes it's simple, sometimes it's not. But every individual possesses the simple and the complicated.
Writing scenes with a male character -- now those, to me, are super fun. Let's take Hank, Charlie Madigan's siren partner from THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS. I know him. I know what he looks like, how he thinks, what he does on his days off, what makes him laugh and what pisses him off. I know it takes a heck of a lot to rile him, and I know that the nonchalant manner he shows the world hides some pretty big issues concerning his past. Jumping back and forth between Hank and Charlie becomes seamless when the characters are that developed in my mind. But, it's really important to stay true to them, and by that I mean their responses and reactions. You might want them to say a certain thing or react a certain way, but you always have to ask yourself -- is that true to the character I have set up? Guys and girls, kids and adults, we'll all see things slightly different or vastly different. As writers we observe, we watch, we have a good sense of interactions and traits... and we have our own experiences with the opposite sex to draw upon, as well as what we learn, realize, and glean from sources, like TV, books, news, reasearch material, etc...
If your characters feel hard to write or lame or whatever, go back to the drawing board, work on developement. Get a better sense for the individuality for your characters. Remember that word. And stay true to it! How people look at friendship and love, for example, is not going to be identical. The meaning of those things are slightly (or hugely, depending) different for everyone. Even between siblings or spouses, these things won't be exact matches, therefore their reactions to things will be different. See? And then you have character traits, upbringing, experiences, desires, dreams -- all these things to set each character apart. All these thing to keep in mind as you develop and write.
Once you have all that, it should be pretty easy to switch back and forth -- no matter how you do your POVs and what tenses you write in.
In Charlie's stories, it's her POV (point of view) and hers only, but every character can still come alive through their actions, their reactions, and their dialogue. This is where they can stand out. Be different. If you see them as individuals and stay true to them as you write, writing different characters whether good or bad, male or female, should produce a really dynamic cast for your story.