Today’s guest blogger is award-winning author Jayme
Mansfield. Her newest book, Rush, released this month, and Jayme is giving away
a free copy. To enter the drawing, leave a comment below and include your email address.
By Jayme H. Mansfield
Once again, Halloween has come and gone. Although it
isn’t my favorite holiday, it provides a fun excuse to dress up and be someone
else for a change.
But for us fiction writers, we have a little secret …
we “dress up” and become different
characters all the time. Now, I’m not saying put on a cowboy hat or a Batman mask,
or swipe on a little face paint, or slip on a furry bunny suit. Instead, when
it’s time to delve into the world of fiction, create a full-blown story, and
hang out with your characters over the course of thousands of words, it’s time
to put on the full disguise—the internal and external persona that makes
characters come alive.
This is an exciting and revealing place to start. Instead
of determining your character’s hair and eye color, height, choice of shoes,
straight versus crooked teeth … you get what I mean ... first go inside the heart,
mind, and soul. You won’t know everything
yet—as the character must grow and change over the course of the book—but
you’ll discover that what’s on the inside impacts what’s on the outside.
A Few Thoughts to Consider:
What does she think about when she can’t sleep at
What’s in her dreams?
When she isn’t speaking, what is she thinking,
When she looks in the mirror, whom does she really
What does she wrestle with that no one else would
suspect or see on the outside?
What's her demeanor with others versus when she is
Does her past haunt or help her?
What is the “hole” in her heart?
Now, like a favorite sweater, turn your character inside
out and see what’s there. The color and texture is slightly different, yet made
from the same fabric. What’s on the inside of your character that might dictate
outward appearance and actions?
Perhaps your character’s rough upbringing results in
unshaven stubble on a daily basis. Or, toss in a juxtaposition and instead, he
is obsessed with immaculate hygiene to compensate for an out-of-control and
messy childhood or past marriage.
Maybe your high-powered executive refuses to wear high
heels so she can walk quickly every place she goes, but is actually fearful of
who or what may be after her.
Don’t forget the eyes. There is truth that they are the
windows to the soul. What color and shape are your character’s eyes? Are they
adorned with wrinkles of age and wisdom, glassy and dull with despair, or
bright and youthful with hope and anticipation? Maybe your character chooses to
wear dark sunglasses. Hmm?
If becoming one character isn’t fun enough, we fiction
writers get to trade out personas and switch to other characters—try on their
pants, walk in their shoes, and wear their hat, so to speak. It’s quite a
thrill to get to know others so well. And if you really want to get wild, take
a whirl at writing in first person POV (point of view). But I’ll warn you, you may
begin to look, feel, act, and believe that you actually are that person. Let’s
just hope it isn’t the antagonist!
What ways do you get to know your characters inside and
Jayme H. Mansfield is an author, artist, and educator—and
feels a bit incomplete when she’s not juggling all three balls. Jayme H. Mansfield is an author, artist, and
educator—and feels a bit incomplete when she’s not juggling all three balls.
Her award-winning debut novel, Chasing
the Butterfly, is a book club favorite and Amazon bestseller. Her new
novel, RUSH, provides a tension-filled,
moving tale of a pioneer woman’s determination to survive. The story is based
on the life of Jayme's great-great grandmother.
Jayme lives in Lakewood, Colorado, where she and her husband
have survived raising three hungry, hockey-playing sons. Currently, a very
needy Golden Retriever runs the roost. When Jayme isn’t writing, she teaches
art to children and adults at her long-time art studio, Piggy Toes.
Visit Jayme at www.jaymehmansfield.com
and sign up for her entertaining newsletter about writing, art, and education.
November has descended upon us like fallen leaves piled high in a myriad of colors, and as the sun sets each night, I can't help but notice the golden hue beaming through the trees like liquid gold. I can't explain how it makes me feel other than to say I am reminded of God's goodness.
Once again, He has proven Himself faithful, even when I may have proven unfaithful for the zillionth time. Sometimes in life, I lack in stewarding my gifts and talents. At least I imagine I do. Did I write that novel like I promised I would? Did I succeed at what I put my hands to do? Did I do what God requested of me, or did I choose my own path through 2017? Or any other year, for that matter? These questions rise within me at this time of year, and I figure I'm not alone.
Stewardship has been solid on my heart this year as I've struggled to walk in obedience to the things God has called me to do: write, make healthier eating/exercise choices, and get my finances in better order. I have a confession: I'm not sure I've been a great steward in any of these areas this year. But God. Despite my shortcomings, He is merciful. He is gracious. He is blessing. He is pouring out favor. And He is ever faithful.
And the year isn't over yet.
I've found some successes. Maybe I'm being too hard on myself. Maybe I've found the successes He hoped I would, and I set my own expectations too high. As a perfectionist, I aim to please, and I push myself beyond my personal, comfortable limits. High Achiever could be the title of my autobiography, if only I truly believed I met my own goals. Instead, I look back on my year and note what I didn't accomplish rather than all I did accomplish. And I momentarily forget the struggles I've faced in the past ten months as well. Life never goes as I plan it. And I remember grace. I remember I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to believe I haven't achieved anything I set my heart and mind to do. Because the truth is, I have achieved more than I thought I could or would. Because I don't walk this path alone. I walk it alongside Father, who holds my hand and guides me into His will.
And I have two more months to do even more. Because I am thankfully called to write. And it's November, which means I have thirty days to write the very rough and down and dirty draft of that novel that He's put in my heart. That I've pondered for two months, itching to put words on the screen, to replace the blinking cursor with the blessing of story. That I know I'm supposed to get out of the very depths of my soul, to breathe life into, and to eventually present to the world. And I am thankful that the calendar has turned a page and NaNoWriMo has begun. No more waiting. Let the writing begin.
And may I glorify the Father who has blessed me with the gifts and talents He poured into me when He formed me in my mother's womb. I pray the same for you as you look forward to the end of another year and what you have left to accomplish and look back on what you've done thus far. May God grace you with strength, determination, endurance, and the gift of time.