Creative Journaling - Getting Inside my Heroine - Jo-Ann Carson

Creative Journaling – Getting Inside my Heroine

I feel like a little girl with a new crayon box. Drawing and coloring my heroine Maggie in a creative journal is not only great fun, it’s a process which informs me about who she is and how her story needs to evolve. Maggie is the central character in my Vancouver series.
Black and White Character Development
I’ve written charts of information about Maggie and stored them on One Note. On long walks along the waterfront, I’ve held interviews with her in my mind asking her every imaginable question. And through the first draft I got to know a lot about  her as she developed through the twists and turns of the plot. But none of this was enough. I still had that gnawing feeling that I wanted to know more about her. It was kind of like meeting an interesting person at a party, being intrigued, but not being left with a full impression of who they really are.
And then there was the question that burst my bubble: Is she 33 or 35?
I know I’m only talking about two years. But it’s the difference between being a young woman almost in her twenties, and being a mature woman; physically at her prime and edging away into a time when personality trumps looks and plays a more dominant role in her life. So which is she? You wouldn’t believe how many hours I’ve wondered about this.
Maggie Developed in Color
As I started drawing a picture of Maggie beneath her skin (above), I realized she needed tears. Lots of tears. Then I realized I need to look more closely at those tears.
That was my first “ah ha” moment with my creative journal. The process  brought me closer to my heroine.

0 Replies to “Creative Journaling – Getting Inside my Heroine”

    1. Hi Judy
      True enough. lol
      The journaling quiets my agitated writer’s mind. I lose myself in the colors and textures. Instead of getting twisted on plot points I play, and afterwards I seem to have a deeper understanding of it all. I guess that’s not news to you artists.

  1. I think it’s cool you can use this technique to help you see your characters better, Jo-Ann. I don’t see this working for me. I’ll look for a picture in a magazine, but trying to draw her/him out? No, I don’t think so. I find it interesting you didn’t know how old she was. That’s something I figure out early on. Time issues of how old everyone is, where they lived when and for how long . . .yeah those have to be settled up front or the story gets messed up.
    But of course, the joy here is we all have to find our way. Seeing what others do is very helpful. I’m sure there are others for whom this will work great, so I’m glad you’re sharing.

    1. Hi Marsha
      Thanks for commenting
      I was surprised by how much it helped me to draw my character, but I do wonder whether this is going to be an experience limited just to her. Other characters I’ve created along the way jumped out at me fully formed. I find the process of writing and its relationship to creativity fascinating, so I’m going to keep exploring and see where my journal takes me. And I love the sharing aspects of blogs.
      Enjoy your day.

  2. Hi Jo-Ann,
    I just loved it when you said you need to “look closely at those tears”.
    I know what you mean, I know exactly what you mean.
    Thank you for that.
    It is almost impossible to describe to someone else, the synergy of mind, hand, art and logic that happens when you act in images with a pen or brush.
    So is Maggy 33 or 35? From the tears I guessed 35 but I’m far from sure.
    Can I suggest that you hold another interview with her, not “in my mind” this time, but spoken out aloud (yes, I know you may feel slightly foolish).
    There is something that happens mentally when you hear your characters voice respond to your question, you have little mental hiccups and the answers are not always predictable.
    I don’t want to sound like a crazy person but…. do try this, try letting Maggy out into the world.
    Wishing you both the very best

    1. Andy
      Thanks for the great response.
      I can tell you understand my “moment” with Maggie’s tears, as lame as it sounds in words (compared to the experience). Discussing it in terms of creative sensory synergy makes sense. And yes, she is 35.
      I might try talking out loud to her, but not when I’m walking along the waterfront. I fear incarceration. lol

  3. I’m intrigued, Jo-Ann. Since I am just starting a new story there is much I don’t know about my character, Georgiana. But since it’s a time-travel I wonder if her character should be consistent in the past as well as the present? Drawing her in period costume and hairstyle, then contrasting it with her appearance now, opens doors to new ways of seeing her. Thank you for the idea.

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