When I started writing TUGL, I had a little problem with my main character, Gena. I didn't get her. I didn't know who she was. I knew a lot about her, but I knew her less than I usually do when starting my stories. I typically get to know my characters quite a bit better as I write the first draft, but with Gena, I wanted to do a bit more. I wanted to get inside her head.
Gena is a dancer. She does ballet and jazz, and dance forms part of her worldview and is part of an important sub-plot. Here's the thing: I have not danced since I was a kid. So I did my traditional reading research, but I've also talked to dancers and plan to observe a dance class. Here's the funnest thing, though: I've been dancing myself.
I can't afford a dance class right now, but there's this awesome thing called a library that has all sorts of videos. Including dance instruction videos. For the last two weeks, my exercise has consisted of ballet and jazz steps, and it's so darn fun! It also helps me not just understand Gena, but to feel things like she does.
And, call me crazy, but I've tried to channel her a bit in daily life, too. While rollerblading in the canyon, I looked around me and tried to see things how Gena would, to notice the things she would notice. As I go through my daily routine, I imagine what Gena's routine is like, and how it's different from mine. While the Kiddo runs in mad circles around the yard and our resident garter snake sticks his head out of his hole next to my foot, I let myself feel how Gena would about it.
It's been surprisingly helpful to literally get inside Gena's head from time to time. The writing helps too, of course, as I get to know her through her actions and reactions. Maybe I'm a little nuts, but it's been fun to "be" Gena occasionally.
So, my friends, what do you do to get inside your character's heads? Have you ever looked at your world as they would? Have you done extra research to find out more about what they love?