Friday, June 17, 2011

Borrowed eyes

I have been cleaning house. If this doesn't impress you, it should. My kids all have weekly jobs, meaning that laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and something akin to dusting happens on a semi-regular basis. However, this doesn't mean that the house becomes truly clean. It just doesn't get too far out of hand. But with the coming of summer, I felt it was time to stir myself into deep cleaning/ throw away mode.

It was for this reason that I found myself standing on the back sidewalk sweeping the grass clippings off the back step. After mopping and doing all the work to get the inside of the house in order, I figured I could buy more time by pushing the dirt on the outside as far away from the door as possible. When I turned around, I noticed dirt smudges on the outside of the back door's white surface. How many times had I gone through that door and not noticed them? It looked dingy. It needed to be cleaned. How had I missed it before?

The answer is probably that I've been looking right at it but not seeing it for some time. I had become so used to it that I missed the dirt-inscribed details.

This week I read Creating Characters Kids Will Love by Elaine Marie Alphin, published by Writers Digest Books. While reading the book, you're walked through a process of reaching into your memories that will help you construct more believable characters for books. This is important, because the last thing any kid wants to read (or an editor wants to publish) is a cardboard character with no depth. I found Ms. Alphi's questions valuable because they helped me adjust my vision. I started to look at my memories, at the people and places around me, and I began to focus on them and really see them for a change.

So if you're writing for kids and you want assistance that will help you create 3D characters that jump off the page and into your readers hearts, my reading suggestion this week is Ms. Alphin's book. With her help, you'll be able to borrow the eyes of a child, and your writing will be better for it.

1 comment:

  1. Another great resource for studying the development of characters is Linda Seger's CREATING UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS. And, it really is all about the details.