He advocates a stream-of-consciousness journal of a character's speech, documenting his/her description of self in whatever form it takes. The list format I used for my characters, bullet points describing traits and likes/dislikes, fell short in guiding me to full characterizations. So I embraced Mr. Bell's advice, closed my eyes, and let Sophie speak through my fingertips.In minutes, this is what I had:
Hi, my name is Sophie Adler. I’m fourteen and I live with my Mutti, my Papa, and my brother Klaus in a 5 room apt over our family’s bakery in Munich. I always wanted a pet, but my parents said no; since we have the bakery right downstairs it wouldn’t do to have an animal prowling around. I talked them into a cat, to act as a mouser in the alley behind our house. Her name is Skittle, because of the way she scurries away whenever someone tries to pick her up. Cats are that way; they want you when they want you, and when they don't want you they skitter away...
Maybe I like Skittle so much because she’s stealthy, living her life fully and completely as a cat, attached but not attached, watching and observing and waiting for opportunities to be part of the family, part of the group, but really a loner inside. She's like me... Quiet, observant, choosing who to reveal self to, who to avoid, scurrying away when cornered, making her own life in front of people and having a separate life they know nothing about.
The fascinating part about this? I've been writing/revising Sophie's story for several years, and I never had a pet in her story. And yet the prospect of a cat as her self-portrait is apt,and one that gives me whole new ways to frame her character and her story.
I feel refreshed; creating a voice journal for each of my characters will help me establish them more fully. That'll make my rewrites more fun.