At one point Betsy was trying, with difficulty, to understand a group of five characters. She couldn’t get the dynamics right, even after writing too much backstory and doing stuff like assigning each of them a symbol—circle, square, squiggle and so on.
She remembered (finally) what she tell students: “In imagination, incarnate as your characters. Be them in their bodies. It’s how we are in our bodies that makes us who we are.”
So, being in the body of each, pen in hand, she asked, “Okay—how would I draw a cat?”
We here at Girl Cooties suggest that you have your characters draw something. See what you learn about them!
Betsy’s new book is now available here.
Betsy James is the author and illustrator of seventeen books for adults and children. Among other honors, her books have been named: Tiptree Award Honor Book; New York Public Library Best Book for Teens; Voices of Youth Advocates Best Book; Junior Library Guild Selection; Canadian Children’s Book Center Best Book; and International Reading Association Children’s Choice. She facilitates writers’ workshops nationally and internationally.
http://www.listeningatthegate.com (older readers)
http://www.betsyjames.com (younger readers)