Getting Into Character

I am learning that to successfully write from your character’s perspective, you must dive deep into who they are. I imagine it’s very similar to what actors have to do to get into character. You must dig deep into the character’s psyche and spend a long time there and report everything you see. Which, when you think about it, is really digging into the complete totality of your own mind, but that’s another blog post all together…

Today I am going to talk about exploring the outside influences of my foremost character Brian. Brian is born and raised in Alaska, but finds himself Washington bound at the age of 17 (against his choice). Brian knows all about surviving cold winters, hunting, fishing, and poaching. He understands how to sustain a farm without a lot foreign technology and influence. Washington is not mammoth in terms of change, but he learns quickly the reason for hunting, carrying guns, and knives is more of a trend for the kids he will meet in his new high school. They throw on a Carhart and watch a few episodes of Duck Dynasty and think they are set for life in the wild.

 I know zilch about guns, bow hunting, and my fishing skills are only slightly better. But these things are a way of life for Brian and I can’t imagine writing about his passions if I don’t experience some of them first hand. Coincidentally, my desire to connect with Brian through his survival skills is answered unexpectedly when a trip to my Dad’s house provides me with the tools I need.

I offhandedly mention to my dad that I want to learn how to shoot, and low and behold, sometimes you ask and you do receive. No more than ten minutes goes by and my dad comes back with his father’s .22 rifle and a .22 pistol both at least 60 years old. I am unprepared for the swell of emotion that hits me. My grandpa died when I was only 6, and holding the guns that belonged to a man I hadn’t seen in 20 years, is an unexpected gift of kinship. I don’t have any living grandparents and it is amazing to hold a piece of my grandpa’s history and share for a moment a hobby he loved. The smooth indentation in the wood lets me know he spent many hours with the rifle. I know both of my grandfathers would be ecstatic to know that their granddaughter has an interest in shooting. And almost as if he doesn’t want to be outdone, my father goes back into his room and retrieves a beautiful bow that my mother’s father gave to him. So my husband and I left my Dad’s house carrying pieces of family treasure from both of my grandfathers.

The following weekend my husband (Miles) and I travel to Sultan, Wa. with our friend Steven to his grandparent’s cabin. The house is beautiful, built by Ray, Steven’s grandfather. The property is surrounded by woods, with a river in the background. In a clearing there is a target already set up. His grandpa being an avid marksman is very helpful teaching us about our newly acquired guns. I am pretty nervous but also very excited to begin. I start with my grandpa’s bolt action .22 rifle.

Ready, aim, POW!

Next, we test out the Colt .22 revolver. I like shooting this much better, and actually it is a big hit with Miles, Steven, and Ray. It is easy to shoot and aim, and it makes me feel like a cowboy. I want to rapid fire the six shooter, slamming the hammer back repeatedly, but I am moving in slow motion today making sure I don’t make any mistakes. I like to get ahead of myself… but not today.

Loading the bullets

My friend Steven also lets me shoot his shotgun! Wow those things really do have a kick, but I love it!

As you can see from the picture below, I am quite amused.

Brian is going to be a bow hunter as well so I am really excited to try the Damon Howatt bow we got from my grandfather. But it is a 50lbs re-curve bow, meaning I will have to live vicariously through Miles because I can only pull the bow string back about half draw. And me trying to string the thing would be a joke.

Here is Miles stringing the bow. He uses mostly his leg muscles.

I am very jealous of him at this point. But the good thing is that Miles loves to shoot the bow, he went to Cabelas and bought a target for home. I will pester him with questions when I have them 🙂

It is a good day with great people. Good thing Steven and Ray were there to show us the basics. I feel much more comfortable going with people who know what they are doing.

Steven and his grandpa Ray

Now I can write about what it feels like to hold a gun, to anticipate that punch in your arm when you pull the trigger. I plan on doing a lot more target practice in the future. This is just the beginning of trying to understand Brian and what drives him, but hey at least it’s a start.

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Author: Rachel McKee

Currently writing a YA novel. I love reading about everything, truly I'm not a book snob. Lately I have been "reading" a lot of picture books to my baby boy. In my past life before motherhood, I was a professional technical editor and writer.

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