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Writing Characters Different from Ourselves #IWSG #Lostherofic


[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome hosts are, Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant and Beverly Stowe McClure.

Thank you so much! And thank you founder Alex J. Cavanaugh!


As a reader, character driven stories draw me instantly. Some of my favorite authors show me the person at a rapid and believable pace. As a writer, I spend my energy first on the character and all those characters who build her story. I mention her for a reason. Being a woman, I’ve narrowed my focus and choose females as my leading characters since it’s what I know very well. I never expected to write a successful story as a man.

This month’s IWSG questions asks: “Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? (For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?)

My answer is yes to both parts with “The Wheat Witch” in the Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life Anthology. Two things were different actually. First, I wrote the story as adult fiction/fantasy, and secondly, I choose a man as my hero.

I LOVE the Young Adult genre, especially fantasy. My initial brainstorm in “The Wheat Witch” involved two separate directions for the theme. One with a young teen boy going through the physical change of leaving the farm and losing the power, then the story quickly spiraled beyond the limits of 5,000 words. I came up with second premise about the older, retired gentleman reflecting on the damage he’d done to himself because of who he left behind transpired.

What helped shift my focus? What tips do I have to offer?

  1. Interview someone who could be a potential character in your book, your M.C.
    I Interviewed my father to gain insight into his life on my grandfather’s farm.
  2. What do you know about the topic? Brainstorm.
    I channeled my own memories of growing up in the summers with my grandparents for a couple of weeks, feeding a baby calf, harvesting the vegetables from the garden, running through the hay bales and spending hours in the fields, mostly building forts or tagging along with my grandma. Those moments are still alive in me from the feel of the sun, or the site of a moonless and star filled sky.
  3. Listen to dialogue and ask others who might be the experts, how they describe images.
    I paid careful attention to the words my father used as he talked. I spent a great deal of time discussing words and asking my partner to help come up with different ways to describe phrases.

Of course, I had a really great writing partner help me clean up a few scenes.

Did I write well like a man? I’d certainly like to think I did a decent job.  I’m not quite sure I’ll try it again, but that’s always been my style. When something scares you, you have to at least try it once so you can reflect and either swear it off, or quite possibly decide it was better than you believed it would ever be and you’ll consider taking the risk again.

How about you? What have you tried recently you never thought you would?