cynthiareeg (cynthiareeg) wrote in kidlit_central,

Wacky Wednesday*Taking Your Characters for a Ride

 Characters & Perspective

 Artwork courtesy of John Blackford

 (artwork courtesy of John Blackford)

On this Wacky Wednesday blog, I invite you (and whoever you’d like to bring along) to join me on a plane ride. I enjoy taking the window seat when I fly because I love the view—the tapestry of patchwork fields, shades of brown and green, winding rivers and creeks twisting through the maze. Even with its hodgepodge look, it seems to have a plan.

On the ground, however, it’s very difficult to get a feel of the patterns, to see the big picture. The world seems to come at you much faster, more messy, more out of control—not so neatly-stitched together.

A view from the air or a view from the ground. Two extremely different perspectives. What about your characters’ perspectives? How do they see things? Do you know?

When I’m writing it’s important for me to see the world through each of my characters’ eyes to get the right perspective. A middle grade novel I’m currently working on is set in a land of monsters. I alternate revealing the story through two very different characters' views of their world.

In an effort to get to know my two main characters a little better, I took each of them along with me on a recent plane trip to Florida. Frank (a generally gentle outcast with numerous demons to fight) and Malcolm (who’s more than monster enough, right?)

“That’s mine,” yelled Malcolm, immediately demanding my window seat as the plane ascended. He yanked me into the aisle seat then crawled over me to the window.

“Grrrr…no fun here,” he growled, before I’d even gotten my seatbelt fastened.

Malcolm pushed me out of my seat and into the empty one across the aisle next to Frank. Malcolm proceeded to trip a young boy and his mother walking by.

“My bad. So sad,” he said with a sneer. A minute later I heard cries from the flight attendants. I rushed to the lavatory and saw Malcolm snorting with glee as blue water from the toilet he’d stopped-up sloshed ankle-deep around his dirty boots.

Frank rushed to aid the attendants and me. We secured Malcolm to one of the flight attendants’ jump seats, using all the extra seat belts from the attendants’ pre-flight emergency briefing.

As Frank helped me back to our places, he insisted I take the window seat this time. More than a little shaken up and deeply regretting my decision to bring Malcolm along on this ride, I didn’t protest. Frank couldn’t seem to stop himself though from frequently leaning over me. His turquoise face lit up as he studied the view.

“It all looks so big from up here,” Frank said. He motioned to Malcolm, who had somehow freed himself and was now shooting sky-high peanuts at snoozing passengers. Frank shook his head but I caught a hint of a grin. “Seems like there should be enough room down there for everybody,” he said. “Alike and different. Even Malcolm and me.”

I ducked a speeding peanut headed my way and watched as Frank leaned back to pull a comb from his pocket. He absently ran it through his neat hair before he grimaced and handed the comb to me.

“Would you take this? I’m going to get into trouble again if they find me with it.”

I stashed the comb in my purse and said, “Real monsters don’t comb their hair, huh?”

Frank gave a half-nod and pulled out the Sky Mall magazine, flipping through the catalog but not seeming to look at the merchandise.

I twisted around as I heard a man bellow behind me. Malcolm snorted as a hefty, bald guy—attempting to pick a projectile peanut from his nose—lurched toward him.

I started to get up but Frank shook his head. “Malcolm should handle this on his own. He asked for trouble and now he’s got it. Monsters like to dish it out, but we know how to take it.”

I was surprised when Frank called himself a monster. I know he was usually called anything but “monster “by the others. I glanced back to see Malcolm, now claw-cuffed and hoof-tied, being stuffed into the overhead luggage compartment by the bald guy and a male flight attendant.

Frank elbowed me. “Don’t worry. He’ll just be planning his next stunt while he’s up there. Malcolm likes hanging out in dark places.”

“Okay,” I said, not okay at all. How sharp were Malcolm’s teeth and claws? Sharp enough to tear a monster-sized hole through an airborne 737? As the writer, I should know important stuff like that BEFORE bringing Malcolm on a plane.

Frank elbowed me again.

“I know you promised me before we left on this trip that you’d have my brother Ghoulbert take care of my Venus Fly Trap for me while we’re away.” Frank paused, looking deep into my eyes. “But are you really going to write it in that way? ‘Cause he’ll sure never do it on his own.”

I swallowed hard. “He promised me he’d do it,” I said.

“Aw, come on. He’s a monster. He was lying. You know that.”

As I tried to look away, Frank’s oversized hand grabbed mine. “Hey, I think you’re the one who lied,” he said. “You set this all up to create more tension for your story, didn’t you? Look who’s the monster now!”

With my hands pressed against my ears to block out Malcolm’s howls from above and Frank’s moans from beside me, I futilely attempted to disappear at 33,000 feet.


To see how Newbery-award winning author, Linda Sue Park, talks with her characters, read her young adult novel, PROJECT MULBERRY.


For more ideas on revealing your own characters, author Sandra Miller offers some online tips.


Or for a quick character exercise, try these links at my website and see if you can create impromptu characters from the pictures.

  So…I  double-dog dare you. Take a couple of your characters for a ride.



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