Last night, I finished reading The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells. It was a fun but deep book that left me thinking about the characters long after the book was over. It’s always so few and far between that a book holds my attention all the way to the end, which is quite possibly the best experience in the world. In The Summer of Skinny Dipping, the characters felt real–believable, relatable and well-rounded.
As someone who is always looking to make her characters feel like people who could be living and breathing somewhere out there, I analyze every story that does this well. One of my favorite things about this book in particular is that it started out with what I’m calling a Character Manifesto. Basically, it was a one page summary, in the character’s own words, of how the she felt about her story and how she grew from it. It felt like I already knew the character before I truly started the book.
Obviously, I wouldn’t recommend including it in many books. It fit well here but it follows the prologue rules, which is to say, use it sparingly and only where it really works. But what a great way for an author to get to know her character a little better…to let the character tell you what her story means to her.
In The Summer of Skinny Dipping, it gave nothing away. It was only meant to be a hook. If my character were to write her own manifesto, here’s what I think she might say:
I never saw it coming. I thought we were happy. I thought nothing would ever come between us. It was probably my own fault. I never told him what happened to me when I was a girl. What happened to my parents. Maybe if I had, he would have known how much it would hurt me when he made that single decision than changed our lives forever.
But sometimes, when the unimaginable happens, it changes how you view the world…how you view your limits. It changes the the thin line between black and white. It changes how you see yourself. Everything I thought was sure in my life was suddenly teetering over the edge and I had to make the decision of whether I wanted to save it…or let it fall.
If you dare, share with me here a few sentences or a whole page of your character’s manifesto!