Intuitive Writing and Character Formation

From Women Writers, Women’s Books:

Inspiration is a funny thing. Mysterious and mystical, it’s difficult to know where it comes from. And unless one writes biographical fiction, characters are inspired by something. Before I started writing books, I imagined that somehow characters formed by themselves without too much effort, as if they leapt onto the page fully formed. Even when I wrote my first book, I thought it worked this way. The writing process was just as mysterious to me as character formation. You see, I’m an intuitive writer. I thought my writing just kind of happened. It was when I began books two and three that I realized characters were a little harder to pin down. 

G.K. Chesterton once said, “A woman uses her intelligence to find reasons to support her intuition.” Now that I’ve published multiple books and drafted several others, I’ve come to find out that while I am an intuitive writer, and even though it’s difficult to articulate my process, I do have a process. 

My first published book was born out of an experiment. I had already written an entire draft of another book, but I didn’t love the voice of that book. I had written it in third-person and began to wonder what might it be like to write in first person. As someone who loves to daydream with a constant inner monologue at any point in my day, it seemed a natural method of writing a story.

I don’t remember how it came about at the time, but the first thing I thought of was that scene from the Disney movie Aladdin where Aladdin has just stolen an apple and is running away from the city guards, singing the song “One Jump.”

I loved the idea of a feisty female heroine, so I re-imagined that scene from Aladdin, but this time with a character who would become Kassia. This was my initial spark of inspiration, but what does a writer do with that initial spark?

. . . .

Before I start writing any book, I have to know the why. My books need a purpose, a goal to accomplish. This is often called the theme of a book. Once I know my theme, I need to know how my characters relate to that theme. This guiding light is the compass for my main character throughout the entire book.

Link to the rest at Women Writers, Women’s Books