Writing Fiction: Go Big or Go Home

My favorite Kate DiCamillo character.

I’ve been trying to get back into my mystery this week and get started on a new picture book. . .

(cricket, cricket, cricket)

I say this and I’ve done some pre-work but sitting down to actually write has not been in the cards.  And the really sorry thing is that I don’t have a good reason.  Sure, I could list dozens of things that I have done – an interview, two trips to the library, worked out, etc.

But writing?  Nope.

Then I saw an interview today with Kate DiCamillo on her book Beverly, Right Here. In part, the interview is about DiCamillo’s tendency to give her characters big problems and trust her readers to deal with them.  But the interview also got me to thinking about the fiction I love.

Kate DiCamillo’s characters don’t just have big problems, they have HUGE personalities.  Think about Mercy Watson on Deckawoo Drive.  She is a big pig who loves hot buttered toast and her family and friends.  She is loaded with personality.

It doesn’t matter if I’m talking picture book, early reader, young adult or adult.  All of the books I love have personality to spare.  The Raven Cycle.  The Dresden Files.  The Troubleshooter series.  Strictly speaking, none of them are believable because the characters are just too . . . something.  What depends on the character.  But they are entertaining and compelling.

So maybe that’s what I need to look for in my own ideas.  Is my main character ho hum or packed full of personality?  If the latter, I think I’d be excited and ready to write.  But they seem to be the former so it is time for a makeover.  This is going to take some thought but that’s okay.  If I work it out in my head, then I will be prepared to work it out on paper.

And, on that note, I have to get ready for choir.  But when she’s working with the altos, I’ll be working on my character.


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