Friday, January 19, 2007

Weekend 3: The sleuth enters

conan.gifThis weekend is the sleuth.

Rather than starting with a stock sleuth build someone you want to know more about. That seems obvious but you do need someone who interests you enough to carry you through the book: a female vampire hunter, a lizard scaled ex-mecha mechanic, a dragon groomer for the queen, a rumpled Harvard grad with a penchant for the afternoon soaps ... :-)

There are 4 parts:
1. Back story
2. Character sketch
3. Scene cards
4. The sleuth speaks
1. Back story

Write a couple of pages on the back story of your sleuth. You may want to start with the events that connect the sleuth to the mystery if there is personal involvement: how did your sleuth meet the killer or victim or others connected to the crime? What pieces of her history brought her to being a sleuth? Who is her family and what was her relationship with them like? Where are they now? What was her upbringing (wealthy? poor? constantly on the move?) Education? Special relationships in the past that shaped who she is?

2. Character sketch

Do this quickly. Describe the sleuth's physical characteristics, personal habits, daily routines, quirks, daily delights and irritations. Wardrobe (comfortable, business, stylish, athletic, artistic ... which should reflect (or perhaps attempt to disguise!) who the character is inside.) Loves? Enemies? Favorite books, TV shows, food. Small details -- like saving playbills in a shoebox -- can bring a character to life.

3. Scene cards

Flesh out some of the previous scene cards with anything new you've discovered about your sleuth. (Perhaps you wrote the scene cards based on a professional sleuth and now realize he's an amateur for example.) And add more such as: Recreation of the crime scene, Killer confrontation, Sleuth's reward (the piece that makes the outcome satisfying for the sleuth, eg, being able to turn down dirty money offered, bringing a killer like the one who slew the sleuth's sister to justice.)

Make notes of what the sleuth is feeling, seeing, thinking.

4. The sleuth speaks

Get some dialog for your sleuth flowing. It can be a bit of the crime scene, or something that stirs the characters emotions. Whatever it is, get her talking about it so you hear her voice.

Next week is The Catalyst. A catalyst is something that remains unchanged but causes changes in what it contacts.
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