Getting Inside a Character’s Head

Getting inside a character’s head is one of the easiest or most difficult things to accomplish when you’re writing a story.   It takes imagination and constant observation of the human race around you.   In the book “The Diamond Thieves” of the Extra Innings trilogy there are multiple characters of various ages, backgrounds, morals and maturities. I am going to write about 3 principle characters in this story: The McGee twins, their friend T.J. and their mother Ellen.
The story is centered around thirteen-year-old identical twins Jimmy and Billy McGee.  Creating the personalities of the McGee twins required a great deal of research .  
I interviewed multiple identical twin males before and during the writing process.  I needed to get into their heads to understand how they viewed one another and themselves in relationship to the world around them.  These interviews helped me to solidify much of the competition theme came from Book 2 and where Jimmy’s emotional journey and struggles came from in Book 3.  Of course, one set of twins could answer my questions completely different from another set of twins.  I discovered this was based on how close of a relationship existed within each set of twins I interviewed.  Did they consider their twin their best friend throughout life or did they find themselves growing apart in their teenage years?  Note: I plan to write future blogs about these specific interviews as I found them fascinating.

Another critical character in the story was T.J.  This is a young black boy growing up in the South in the late 1940’s-early 50’s. Most of T.J.’s development came from movies I had watched in my life of the societal difficulties blacks faced during this period in history.  Also, my best friend growing up was black and he and I had conversations about how different and how very much alike we both were – despite our racial difference.  
Creating an interesting character in T.J. was a huge goal of mine.  I not only wanted T.J. to be strong, I needed him to be.  Yet, I had to be realistic and ask myself how strong would a young black male have been at this period in time? Most 13-year-olds face a mountain of fears and curiosities and are simply not the least bit mature.  But again, there are some whom have had to endure adult-like circumstances and therefore had no choice but to develop a strength just to survive.  This is who I believe T.J. is and I like the way he interacted with the boys in the story as well as showing a vulnerable side by always making a quick exit anytime “the mob” appeared.

Also, I want to talk about the twins’ mother Ellen.  Writing Ellen was a fun challenge. I had no current observations to base any of her moves, reactions or behaviors on.  I found myself having to ask older women, who would have been little girls at this time in history, to look back on their mothers for nearly ever move Ellen made throughout all three of the books.  I also had to locate women who were raised in the South as most of the women I know are not Southerners (whom hold a very different mentality and demeanor than “Yankee” women. I like that I was able to give her a heroic role in Book 1.   My mission as a writer is to  connect and inspire and, for me, Ellen was the character that stood out in Book 1 as an inspiration.  I hope that readers will feel inspired by her and how she stood up against an entire community for what was right.

I’m sure I will have more to write about this as character development is critical to storytelling but for now these were the top three examples I wanted to start with.

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