Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Characters: Introducing Mr and Mrs So and So.

I've been reading, reading, reading since my last post: researching for my novel, that's set in 1969 in Manchester and Crete. I'm so glad I did because it's made me realise that the swinging 60s had all but vanished and the hippy movement and other sub cultures were in full flow.

Society and attitudes were changing greatly for example the legalization of homosexuality; the women's lib movement had started to take off; the tensions felt surrounding immigration and the inflammatory 'Rivers of Blood' speech given by Enoch Powell; the strikes, political unrest and dissatisfaction with the Wilson government. There appeared to be a general feeling that the exuberant times of the sixties were coming to an end, only to be replaced by an uncomfortable thought of what may lie around the corner for the following decade - I don't think it's that dissimilar from today.

In Crete, there was the military Junta by the Colonels, which meant that all of Greece was living under a dictatorship. The use of torture, martial law, and taking of political prisoners was not uncommon, and many European countries were concerned with human rights issues. Yet at the same time Greece actively encouraged tourism to help booster its economy. An example of this was the hippy colony that sprung up in the late 60s around Matala in Southern Crete, which part of my novel will be visiting.

With all this information behind me I've now got some ideas for my characters. I'm a believer that in order to have a plot and to be able to drive it forward you have to know your characters inside out, so that is what I'm going to be focussing on over these next few weeks. Once I know who my characters are, and more importantly how they would react to things, then I can start plotting my novel out. I already have some mental pictures of what they look like, but it's about the back-stories I give them that - I hope - will make them come alive and jump off the page. Quite a few of the 'How to Write' books have a standard character sheet, that you can use to build up a character, for example: what they look like, their occupation, likes/dislikes etc. I'll use these formats initially but will then adopt them to suit my own needs.

Anyway, must dash as real life beckons in the guise of the school run...

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