Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I took the liberty yesterday of nominating myself for an Academy Award. Consider my performance:

The role I embraced is that of Karen Wylie, age fifteen going on thirty. I have bleached blonde hair and black roots and I never met a make-up product I didn't like. I chew my nails. I wear a small heart on a silver chain and my clothes are too tight. Hey, if you got it, flaunt it. My mother has lost heart with me (I also play her part, catch that performance a chapter earlier…) and I guess I don't blame her, but honestly, she wants to know EVERYTHING. So I tell her nothing.

Today the hero and heroine (I also play their parts. They have a running performance) asked me a few questions about my shot up ex-boyfriend and I don't mind telling you, I got a little spooked. I called the new guy in my life, and boy, that's a whole other story. He said it was time for us to run away together.

Now, I'm just a Junior in high-school and he's a lot older but the things I have done with him…well, anyway, he said he didn't want anyone spoiling our plans so I should just ride a bus two towns down the river and he'd pick me up and we'd go get married, he'd fix all the details. I can't believe this is happening to me!

Okay, I couldn't tell Mom where I was going. I took a hundred dollars out of her wallet and bought a bus ticket to Portland so if she tries to find me, she'll get it wrong. It wasn't really my idea, my boyfriend came up with it. He's knows all that kind of stuff.

He wasn't waiting for me when I got off the bus so I stood on a corner across from some bum asking for money cause he ran out of gas for his car. Sure. Like he has a car. (I know he doesn't, because I will play him in the immediate future.) After awhile, it got hot so I walked down the street toward the river. My boyfriend had told me not to use my cell phone, so all I could do was wait out in front of an old warehouse. The old bag across the street kept staring at me. She finally went away from the window (as I will also play her, I know she went to answer the phone) right when my boyfriend showed up. We walked down the block to his car.

The fact is I won't ever get out of this car alive, but of course, I don't know that. The fact is my mother is going to think I ran away for good until way later when they find my body. The fact is, my last thought is going to be of my mother and how she was actually right about some things and my last sight is going to be my boyfriend's face…

I can't go into that. It upsets me and I'm not supposed to know it, anyway. In fact, other than the part when the hero and heroine talk to me at my job at the pharmacy and I get spooked, the rest happens off screen.

Which means all my dying hopes and fears have to exist in the mind of my audience just as they do in the mind of my creator.

So, yesterday, I was that girl. And all this happened to me.

Can you do this with a character in your WIP or do you do something similar? Do you get inside them, even if for only a few moments as you write and "live" their parts? Not a major character, and not a chain of events you show in the book, but the off stage stuff that has to be as real as the printed word. It chilled me to get inside Karen Wylie's vacant head. It made me sad for her. For the years she won't have, for her short life (one lousy conversation where she, frankly, didn't come off that well) and then nothing. On the other hand, she will be avenged, her killer will pay.

But, of course, I also play his role.


Elisabeth Naughton said...

Today I'm a bitch. It's a big stretch for me. My no-good lousy-excuse for a father is finally dead. I couldn't be happier. Of course, the only thing that would make this day better is if he'd taken his twit of a wife with him to the grave. My step-mother. Oooh. I cringe at that word. Step mothers are supposed to be old and wrinkly, but not her. No, she's three years younger than I am! And unless I play my cards right, she's going to inherit fifteen-point-seven million dollars which should rightfully be mine! Oh, yes. The old hag needs to go. The writing's on the wall. It would be oh-so rewarding to put a bullet in her brain, but I'd rather see her suffer. Life in a dingy women's prison would do the trick. I need to do some serious thinking . . .

Anonymous said...

Wow Alice, that was awesome!

I go into my character's heads and listen to their thoughts, feel their feelings, but I've never actually written down anything like you've done in this post. Brilliant!

Thanks for sharing your wisdom and tricks of the trade! :)

Anonymous said...

Eli, you and Alice are two very twisted chicks.

I'm scared of you. LOL

Alice Sharpe said...

Eli -- I love it! How you are going to come up with the bitch thing, I don't know, but I have faith you will. And you black hearted devil, you're going to frame that nice little step mother, aren't you? Oh, shame.

Thanks for playing along...

Alice Sharpe said...

Piper -- Come on, Piper, try it. get into the head of one of your minor characters, just for a paragraph and maybe you'll find out something about him or her you didn't know. I'm waiting (toe tapping...)

smiley face

Karen Duvall said...

Alice, you rock! I can't wait to read this book now. Kind of reminds me of Alice Sebolds' These Lovely Bones. Eli, yours is good, too. 8^)

I'm writing first person so have been totally up in her business from page one. I haven't wallowed in the brains of the other characters, so I need to try this.

Chalice is better off under my protection. She needs me, she really does, and I don't care if she hates me. Actually, I kind of like it that way. And I like it that there's so much she still doesn't know about her people, who and where they are, and now that I know what her father is, Chalice will help me find him. She doesn't know it yet, but she will. And after I find him, she won't have to hate me anymore because she'll no longer be alive.

Lisa Pulliam said...

Oooh fun! Nice Alice and Eli! I'm like Piper, I've never gotten into my character's heads like this before. Might as well try it now. Maybe it will help me figure out some things about her.
I'm a pretty straight-laced type of girl. Ok, I've been drunk a few times, maybe flashed a cop or two in my teens, but nothing major. I live life on the straight and narrow.

Why shouldn't I? I've got too much to lose. My career in anthropology is everything to me. Things are finally falling into place. I leave for my fieldwork in Mexico in a couple of months.

I learned at a young age that the only way a woman can get any respect is to be successful in a career. My mom stayed at home to take care of me and my father treated her like a second-class citizen. There's no way I'm going to suffer through that too.

I finally moved passed the mishap I had a couple of months ago. I had just broken up with this sorry excuse for a boyfriend and my best friend insisted on taking me out dancing. Well I was a bit too intoxicated - on Long Island Iced Teas and a sexy Brit. His accent did wonders. We ended up doing the nasty in the club bathroom.

How awful is that? I can count my number of sexual partners on one hand...ok a couple of fingers...and I drop my pants for a guy after knowing him for 20 minutes? I must have been desperate, or he must have been some stud.

To throw a wrench in things, I think I might be pregnant. Yeah, that's quite a big wrench. I wonder if I can have my baby in Mexico...who am I kidding? My life is over before it's begun. Did I mention the one-night-stand ended up being a student in one of my classes this term? Great, huh? Crap.

Karen Duvall said...

Oops, omit that last line. What I meant to say is: And after I find him, she won't have to hate me anymore because she'll no longer be human.

Lisa Pulliam said...

That sounds cool, Karen!!

Anonymous said...

Alice-- Ack! Okay, you asked for it. But, don't say I didn't warn you. I'm not a woman of few words today (for some reason). I've been thinking about these two secondary characters (Charlie (human) and Valora (alien)) for the last couple days. I'm not sure where they came from, but I like them. I hope they don't die. ;)

Okay, first Charlie and then Valora...

This totally sucks. I don’t know what’s gotten into Sophie. She’s never looked at me the way she looks at Laykn. Laykn, what sorta name is that anyway? Stupid, that’s what. Man, there’s no way I can compete with that guy. He treats me like I’m some kinda kid, but it’s not true, I’m almost seventeen, I’m almost a man. I can take care of Sophie and myself. She was mine way before he came onto the scene. We’re best friends. I love her. I just wish she loved me the way I love her. Not like I’m some kid brother, but for the man I am. I’m gonna be a hero; a hero just like Laykn. I’ll prove myself to Sophie. Hell, I’ll prove myself to all of them! I’m gonna be Charlie the hero.

That silly boy. What’s his problem? I don’t know why he moons over Sophie the way he does. She’s too old for him anyway. I want Charlie to notice me. Oh, he talks to me and confides in me, but he’s so hung up on precious Sophie that he can’t see I’m right here waiting for him. I suppose Sophie’s a nice girl; I mean, Laykn is smitten with her. I never thought I’d see the day that Laykn put anything, especially not a female, above duty and honor. Males are so strange and they can be so dense. I’m not just talking about my brother Laykn; nope, he's dense, but so is my adorable Charlie. Oh, if Charlie only realized how much help he’s been already perhaps he’d simmer down a bit. I see what he’s up to. He’s going to go try and prove himself, but he’s going to need help and I know the perfect person for the job. Me. Maybe then he’ll notice me. Oh, if my big brother knew what Charlie was up to he’d shut him down straight away. But I’m going to help Charlie; he’s going to take me with him. I’ll resort to blackmailing him if I have to. I don’t care. Pride’s a wasted emotion anyway. Humans have way too much of it. Nope, I have no pride. Besides, I have the codes to the uniform storage unit's lock. He needs me. It's good to be needed. I’m going to make Charlie see me for who I am, and eventually, he’s going to love me.

Thanks Alice! This was really helpful to my pea brain to put this down on "paper" instead of having it run through my brain where I'm sure to forget it. :) I'm big happy about this exercise!!

Anonymous said...

Karen and Lisa-- Very good examples! Thanks for sharing yours! We have such a great group of sharers! ;)

So, where's everyone else? And gee whiz, is Paty ever coming back from Alaska? She's probably a popsicle by now!

Genene said...


Great post, Alice, and wonderful examples from everyone else. But I'm going to do yard clean-up before it rains, so no example from me. Unless I drop into the head of the gardener while I'm outside ...

Alice Sharpe said...

OOh, Karen, chills!

Don't we all write the best evil people????

Alice Sharpe said...

Lisa, you little devil! YOu did great!

There's a lot there to work with... is that a minor character or the lead?

Alice Sharpe said...

Piper, I knew you could do it. Ah, triangles and angst and jealousy -- tra, la, la they make the world go round.

Very cool. Lots of good books coming our way.

And maybe while Genene is doing the yard work, she'll uncover a body under the leaves and maybe it'll be her long lost ex-lover...

Danita Cahill said...

What a fun way to write a blog, Alice.

Okay, I'll give it a shot. This is a main character in a yet-to-be-written story.

My given name is Joseph Christian, but mostly folks call me Tater Joe. Can't rightly recall my last name, been so long since I used it. I usually make one up -- Atkins, maybe Johnson or Wilde. I try to steer away from using Smith or Jones, too many of them living in Camp Boondoggle all ready. It can get downright confusing.

People call us homeless, but that's not it. We have a home, right here at our camp. And we have each other. We're more family than a lot of folks has ever known. Take Borderline for example. He'd do anything for me. Oh sure, he drinks too much, but he's got a heart big as Montana thumpin' in his chest.

Okay, veering a bit off the usual path of my characters, but I have a soft spot for Tater and his buddy. They've been rattling around in my mind for a long time now. Thanks for letting me bring them out to say "howdy" Alice.

Alice Sharpe said...

Howdy Tater Joe and Borderline. Where did you get them names? Wonderful. And camp Boondoggle. Too good.

Danita, this sounds delightful!

Barbara said...

Actually, our WIP has a scene very like this:

"What is it with her, anyway? Doesn't she know this is the 21st century? Women don't have to wait until they're married to have sex anymore! Maybe there's something wrong with her she doesn't want me to see. Well, it doesn't matter. As long as she looks good at my side and produces the requisite child or two, I don't care what might be wrong with her. Didn't Dad say that's what I need to present a stable image to his banking customers?

"And it's all the better that the fortune she inherited from her grandmother will become hers to manage when she turns 25 shortly after our wedding. The stupid little bitch is afraid she won't know how to handle all that money wisely -- that's why she needs me, a banker's son, to marry her and take over her fortune and manage it for her. I'll manage it, all right. I'll live the life I've always wanted to live with that money and be out from under my daddy's thumb.

"But first I've got to get her down the aisle. So I'd better cool it and be patient for now. Still, if that Cherie doesn't keep out of my way, I'll see that she doesn't make it back from this tour in one piece."

Billie Lee is the villain in the sub-plot of our WIP. Cherie is the heroine.

Alice Sharpe said...

Barbara, great! I hope all the good people in our books are on the lookout for the murderers, creeps and ner-do-wells!

By the way, Barbara, did you go to the movie? Did you like it?