Throughout the film I was enchanted with the idea that Calvin had created a character who was so well written that she could slip into the world and no one would know she was made of ink and paper. He knew every detail of her life, who she was, and what had shaped her. When Calvin is describing Ruby to his shrink, he slips into this beautiful narrative that delves so much deeper than what she looks like or her favorite foods.
This brought to mind my own characters and how well--or not so well--I know them. If they suddenly appeared and a stranger asked them about their life--their family, what they do, what they love, what defining moments shaped who they are--would my characters be able to answer? Would they be able to reply confidently, in a way consistent with their personality? Would there be enough backstory, enough thought-out, relatable details, for my characters to take on a life of their own and make it in the real world without being found out?
|Image courtesy of jannoon028 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
I've been wanting to watch Ruby Sparks for a while, but I'm glad I ended up watching it now (perfect timing since my writing group just happens to currently be discussing character development and interviewing your characters) because it inspired me to seriously delve into this process. Because really, my characters are a part of me and I owe it to them to get to know them well enough to tell their stories properly.
Hemingway said it well: "When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters."