Monday, 3 September 2012

Guest post from Tera Lynn Childs

The first book in Tera Lynn Child's new series is publishing this month! To celebrate this new feisty series, Tera has written us a post about how she develops her characters...

Starting a new book is the best feeling in the world. I love the brainstorming part, the daydreaming and the world building and the brilliant, perfect idea of what the finished book is going to turn out to be.

Then I start writing. As soon as I put words on the page then flaws start to show. The sentence I can’t get just right, the plot thread I don’t know how to start, or the character I can’t quite figure out. I get about 15-30 pages into the story and I get stuck.

That’s where my character collages come in. I’m a very visual person. I grew up playing with my dad’s markers and colored pencils, sketching up fashions and house plans. When I get stuck with my words, sometimes it takes a visual jumpstart to get them flowing again.

First, I gather my supplies. Blank paper, scissors, a glue stick, a silver Sharpie, and magazines. Lots and lots of magazines.

 Next, I flip through the magazines, looking for images that remind me of my main characters. They might be pictures of a model who looks like the character, clothes they might wear, and things they might own. I tear them out and make piles for each main character.

Then, I cut out the individual images, arrange them on the paper, and glue them in place.

These collages give me a great visual reference for the character. Even if I don’t use the items in the collage, they fill in a lot of blanks about what kind of person the character is, the kinds of things they would buy, and how they would react to things.

For Sweet Venom, these collages were even more important than usual since I was dealing with triplets. These three girls are identical (physically anyway) but they are very, very different. They were adopted into three different families and raised separately. They grew up to be three very unique girls.

Grace was raised by a stable and loving family. She is the sweet girl next door who wears Converse and sweaters and daydreams in her bed.

Gretchen was raised by horrible parents until she ran away and started fighting monsters. She is the tough girl who sports leather jackets and carries a dagger in her steel-toed boots.

Greer was raised by wealthy, powerful parents. She is the high class snob who wears designer clothes, gold jewelry, and has perfect highlights in her hair.

I had a general idea of these things about the girls when I started writing Sweet Venom. I had a basic understanding of their characters, but the collages reinforced that. Helped me develop a fuller, more well-rounded understanding of who they are and how they would react to situations… like, say, finding themselves face to face with a mythological monster or a long lost identical triplets they never knew they had.

Sweet Venom is publishing 1st September 2012, click here to pick up your copy. Don't forget to check out our awesome Facebook cover competition. Find out more details here

Follow Tera on Twitter or visit her website to find out more! 
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