Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Are you a true Dr. Frankenstein? by Josie Montano

I don’t mean to scare you!

But I use Dr. Frankenstein’s methods when it comes to creating a character. As you know, the eccentric scientist gave life to his ‘creation’ Frankenstein by putting together bits and pieces of other bodies, gruesome, I know, but a fascinating idea for a writer.

Keep in mind also that Dr. Frankenstein is a creation of another writer’s mind, Mary Shelley, so not only did she create a character, her character created a character. Phew - she was clever!

As an author, when I am creating my character, I first write up a profile of my ‘dummy’ (and when I say ‘dummy’ not as in stupid, but as in a blank canvas) a very plain doll/mannequin that I can turn into a person.

Sounds silly, but I interview my ‘dummy’ and the more questions I can answer, the more the ‘dummy’ turns into a ‘person’. I make up the questions and, I guess, something ‘inside’ me answers the questions and, in turn, I create my character!

This is the process I used for my characters in Pop Starlets. There were so many of them and I needed them to be different to each other so I made a graph and wrote notes on each character, so their characters could be formed, come to ‘life’, in my mind. Then, I could use these characters in my story because I knew how each 'person' would react and behave in the situations I created for them.

Here are some of the things I need to know about my  ‘dummy’ and some examples of possible answers to my questions: -
  • Name - something that relates to theme of story
  • Age - old as Yoda, young as spring chicken
  • Height - tall as a forty story building
  • Weight - light as a feather
  • Hair colour - the colour of the sun setting
  • Physical features - three legged, mole on chin
  • Personality - mad as a Jack Russell terrier,
  • Quirky qualities - hates green soup
  • Favourite colour - wears only red underpants
  • Hobby - on weekends likes to go four leaf clover hunting
  • Best friend - side-kick
  • Lives where - haunted house, shoe box
  • School or work - what do they do during the day?
  • Favourite food - ice-cream with pickles
  • Favourite school subject - knitting at the footy
  • Sport - good at sock throwing
  • Mannerisms - odd behaviour, touches chin whenever eats
Once you have a profile list of your character, you can also add bits and pieces of people you know. Grandma, your dad, sister, neighbour, footy-mate, teacher – little bits of personalities and behaviours from all these people in your life may help inspire a character.

This is how my character ‘Vinnie’ from the Snot Series (Snot Fair, Snot Funny and Snot Cool) was created. Vinnie is a mixture of me when I was ten years old, my son at that age and also the TV character ‘Dennis the Menace’.

Also be a good eavesdropper, but not a sticky-beak where you spread gossip. I always say that, as a writer, I’m constantly researching. This means that, if I’m on a bus, I’ll listen in to conversations around me or observe an interesting person’s behaviour or mannerisms, and sometimes I’ll include them in my stories.

So, in a nutshell, what have I advised you do?

Be like the author Mary Shelley and create an eccentric character like her Dr. Frankenstein. Top that off with becoming a good eavesdropper!

And remember….you never know who’s listening to you!

About the Author

Josie is an award-winning author of over 40 books. She has been internationally published and writes fiction under the name of MONTANO and non-fiction resources on Asperger Syndrome under the pseudonym of SANTOMAURO.

From the age of nine, Josie annoyed her librarian by shelving her self-published books for borrowing and being the most diligent library monitor there was! Her favourite author was Enid Blyton. She then went on to receive her first rejection letter from Golden Books at age thirteen. Josie draws on her varied life experiences to help her with her writing, interesting experiences such as being involved in a bank robbery, working within the primary school environment, surviving cancer, growing up within an Italian community, winning the major prize on ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and as a volunteer member of the State Emergency Services.

She loves coffee, chocolate, amateur theatre, going to the movies, being silly, witty, humorous and enjoys reading Andy Griffiths' silly, witty and humorous books!

Visit her website at: http://www.booksbyjosie.com.au
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Josie-Montano/88023619410
Or Twitter her @JosieMontano 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Josie. A great insight into the creative process involved in making your characters "real".

    If characters are based on real people and real personalities, events and mannerisms it makes more sense, both to the writer and the reader, when they respond to particular events in the story as you'd expect that sort of person to respond...

    I can see why you call it Frankenstein building - if I took my mother's knitting talents and added my daughter's inability to get to school on time, my brother's optimism and my dog's reaction to the word, "walk"...I'd have quite a strange character, to be sure, but also one I could confidently put in situations and know how he or she would react.