How do we give shape and voice to our characters within the story? Whether we are writing our stories or telling them aloud the listener needs to get a good sense of who this character is. If it is someone from true life that we know then this is easy. If your story is fiction and you want your character to be believable there are a number of things that you can do to create authenticity. One thing that I like to do is to create SoulCollage® cards. This is a fun, creative practice where you create a card that has a unique ‘voice’.
I surround myself with images from magazines and surrender to the creative process. I can either consider the particular energy that a character in the story has (or I want them to have) or I can select images intuitively. The images are cut up and arranged on a card. Sometimes the card will represent a particular character in the story and sometimes it will be a particular emotion. I create a card for each one. As I work on the cards, more of the story begins to open up.
To gain insight and hear their ‘voice’ I work with each card allowing it to ‘speak’ to me. This involves speaking, deep listening and journaling – all valuable practices for the storyteller.
SoulCollage® is a practice designed by Seena Frost and traditionally the cards are divided into 4 suits representing 4 different dimensions. I like to create and work with the Story Suit (a fifth suit) which taps into the psychological, energetic and archetypal dimensions, creating a well rounded authentic character and story. The artmaking empowers me to see, sense and feel the essence of this and move away from the intellectual process of thinking and writing.
Some stories I have made cards for all of the characters and other stories just some. For me when I am preparing to tell a story, just to surround myself with these creations helps me tap into my deeper wisdom and knowing. Once in a while when I am looking at what story I need to tell - whether this is for a performance or for teaching and coaching - I come to my cards and play with them, shuffling and arranging. They always 'speak' to me - I just need to be prepared to listen.