I really tapped into one of my neurotic, psychotic characters from a short story last night and had a moment where nothing made sense and everything was clear. That was… adventurous, to say the least.
Note to self: do NOT write freaky, insane, mind-twisting, paranoid and spooky characters while stressed out about multiple projects and events going on in real life. That is not the way you get to sleep, nor does it make the stress levels go down.
Yeah, I’m a moron.
But… that brings me to a question: how do you separate your characters from your self?
I’ve always had a hard time parsing out the differences of character mindsets and my own. Oh, I’m not guilty of Mary Sue-ing myself, oh no. But in order to get inside a character’s mind, sometimes I have to try and think like that person, act like them. Call me the Method Writer, where I take on the personality and attitude of the main character of a given novel. I’ve never tried it with a short story before, which makes last night all the more crazy.
But Method Writing… I’d never really labeled it before until today, when I was thinking about complaints regarding Joaquin Phoenix’s “method acting” techniques, which drives his costars nuts because he is always “in character” while trying to bring more out of it. I realized that I sometimes do this with my writing and cringed because that means that there have been times when I just really have been weirder than usual. I wonder how hard that makes me to live with.
(No worries, I’m not like that in public, only when I’m at my computer and trying to finish a deadline)
Digging deeper and deeper into a character requires a sacrifice of one’s self. You lose a little part of yourself while bringing this character’s attitudes to light. For Tori, I really had to find that tumultuous barrier between child and adult while ensuring that the reader could both taste her fears and her courage all at the same time. I tried to make her as straightforward as possible, merely because I wanted it to be a simple person. But Method Writing doesn’t allow for this, and made my writing hell while I tried to be that character.
…maybe this is why I do so well on stage?
Plus, basing a character off of a deceased friend isn’t great for the psyche either.
A Behemoth of Man is the short in question, a spin-off short story from the Dominion of Man series (Wraithkin and its brethren) that I’m not sure what I’m doing with. It’s set well after the events in the series, upwards of a thousand years. It stars my good friend and inspiration, Mike Fischer, who called himself “Gimp” (we did too, only because he refused to answer to “Mike”) because of childhood ailments. Mike is actually the basis of the idea for Wraithkin and everything behind it, including the breeding restrictions in a society where perfection has been achieved. But I changed the name of the main character of Wraithkin, because Mike was born with his ailments, unlike the main character of Wraithkin.
…this has nothing to do with Method Writing. I’m sorry.
But… back to the original question. How do you get rid of the characters in your head without letting them eat you whole?