Will Ferrell's character meets the woman writing the novel and when he walks through the door to meet her, the reaction astounded me. She shakes, mouth agape, hardly able to speak as her creation moves towards her. And then it hit me...
I can't do that. I haven't done that. If I sat in a coffee shop and my character walked through the door I may have a flicker of recognition but they could walk right by and I'd never get weak in the knees. I'm sure by now most of you are reading this and giving me a stern "tsk, tsk". This is Writing 101, right? You would think, but I've read many a YA novel with flat, uninteresting characters. Authors tend to peg down a famous face as the physical representation of their character, add in a few quirks, and call it a day. Not that there's anything wrong with a celeb look-a-like, but is THAT your character? If that celebrity walked through the door would you be weak in the knees, crazy about how much they represent your leading character? Or would you be stoked a hot celebrity was walking in? I'm sure we both know that answer.
My point is this: your characters are yours and yours alone. It is your job, your responsibility, to be the Picasso of their lives and paint them so precisely that your readers invest in them like real people. They are real people to you. Do I sound crazy yet? You need to invest time in them, from their physicality down to their favorite pair of shoes if you expect your audience to do so too. If you think this is a little severe, you may be right, but look at Heath Ledger as the Joker, Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, or Natalie Portman in V For Vendetta. SHE SHAVED HER HEAD! Live inside your characters and write their lives from the inside out.
Thoughts? Opinions? I'd love to hear them! :)