Many years ago, when I first started writing, I had four small children and no such thing as a dedicated office space. However, in my bedroom, I had a full wall of closets with mirrored doors, so I truly became a closet writer. I put my computer, an Apple IIe, on a small desk inside the closet and sometimes used the walls as a bulletin board to post pictures of my current hero and heroine, usually ones I cut out of magazines. Also, I wrote out lengthy backstories for these people and interviewed them as if I was a newbie reporter trying to nail down the breaking news story of the century. When I needed to describe a facial expression, I would pull the closet door partway shut, lean around so I could see my face, and try to make the expression I wanted to recreate in words. This technique was very helpful and my children laughed hysterically over my antics. They learned, early on, that their mother wasn’t the norm. This realization has probably saved them thousands of dollars in therapy fees.
Yesterday, while reading Cheryl Harper’s post about doing research by binge-watching television shows and creating Pinterest boards for her characters, I realized I no longer do the prep work on characters that I used to do, and I’m not sure how or why I ever went off the rails and got out of that habit. Now, I tend to create characters, decide what they look like and what motivates them, and jump into writing. It’s highly inefficient. I have to keep going back in the story to see how I’ve described the characters and rediscover what makes them the way they are. I’ve decided I need to step back in time -- although not back into that closet -- find photos and create backstories.
Now, I have a space strictly for writing, a storage shed in my backyard that I had converted into an office. I call it my Shoffice. It has plenty of space for photos and write-ups of character interviews, although maybe I’ll make Pinterest boards instead. I need to get back to what I was doing so long ago to get to know my characters. After all, on Pinterest, I can always do research by looking for likenesses of my hero and heroine, inspirational sayings of my characters’ beliefs, recipes of things I’ll never cook, photos of kittens and puppies. Oh, wait, I may be going off the rails again.