So my vacation is over and Im back. November was filled with NaNoWriMo like usual which was a blast and I highly recommend it for all those who enjoy writing.
Also, another announcement, for any other highs coolers interested in writing Schoolastic is doing a wonderful competition right now for art and writing. Look into the below link for more information!
Week One: Advice on Characters
Characters are very important to a story. A plot may be your backbone, but the characters are what bring the entire thing to life. When someone is reading a story the plot line is very important, but if they care enough about the characters the reader will read to see what happens to them even if the plot sucks because THEY LIKE THE CHARACTERS.
So if the key to a story is characters, than how do you make a character able to become interesting? Well, they have to be like actual people. Not that you have to watch someone and make your character THAT person, but more like you have to make your character three-dimension. They have to have ups and downs, negatives and positives, friends and foes.
I believe, that the key to make your characters 3D can be achieved by getting to know your own character. When you’re writing, let the character decide what happens next. As a writer you shouldn’t have to force any of the events in a story, the characters should push for things to happen the way they do. Now, for a character to guide a story accurately the author /does/ have to know them very well which goes back to the beginning.
To get to know my characters I have learned multiple methods. The first is a character skeleton. I picked up this method through a lot of Role Playing that I used to do on some websites. Before someone could join into a role play they would have to post a skeleton on their character so that everyone else knew the basics. Each skeleton was unique, but I put together my own. When I got serious about writing I went to Rick Riordan’s site and found what he used.
Age in story: _________
Hair color, length, style: ________________________________
Regional influences: _____________________________________
Accent: (include voice, style of speech, slang, signature phrases or words) _______________________________________________________________________
Marital status: _____________________________________
Scars or other notable physical attributes: _____________________________________________________________________
Handicaps: (emotional, physical, mental) ____________________________________________________________
Athletic? Inactive? Overall health? ___________________________________
Style of dress: _____________________________________________________________
Favorite colors: _____________________________________________
How does the character feel about his/her appearance? ____________________________________________________________
Relationship with parents: _____________________________________________________________
Memories about childhood: _______________________________________________________________________
Educational background: (street smart? Formal? Does he/she read?) _______________________________________________________________________
Work experience: _______________________________________________________________________
Where does the character live now? Describe home (emotional atmosphere as well as physical) ________________________________________________________________________
Neat or messy? _____________________________________
Sexual preferences/morals/activities: _____________________________________________________________
Women friends/men friends: ____________________________________________________________________
Enemies? Why? _____________________________________________________________________
Basic nature: ________________________________________________________
Personality traits (shy, outgoing, domineering, doormat, honest, kind, sense of humor):
Strongest trait: _____________________________________________
Weakest trait: _____________________________________________
What does the character fear? _____________________________________________________________
What is the character proud of? _____________________________________________________________
What is the character ashamed of? _____________________________________________________________
Outlook on life (optimistic, pessimistic, cynic, idealist) _____________________________________________________________
How does the character see himself/herself? ____________________________________________________________
How is the character seen by others? _____________________________________________________________
Do you like this person? Why or why not? ____________________________________________________________
Will readers like or dislike? __________________________________
Most important thing to know about this character: _____________________________________________________________
Present problem: ___________________________________________
How it will get worse: _____________________________________________________________
What is the character’s goal in the story? _____________________________________________________________
What traits will help/hurt the character in achieving this goal? _____________________________________________________________
What makes the character different from similar characters? _____________________________________________________________
Why will readers remember this character vividly? _____________________________________________________________
Mine is much shorter, but I have some other things I do as well to get to know my characters. I do something a friend taught me entitled a “Character Conversation”. It’s simple really! It requires one or two sheets of paper. On the top I pose a question and then let my characters debate it out.
For example: How do you think “The Dream Prison” should have ended? Or What would you change in “The Dream Prison”?
The conversations that start get very interesting.
Now, organization is another key point because keeping it all up in ones head is impossible. So actually physically write out the skeletons and write out a conversation from time to time. Get to know your characters and break away from the stereotypical tropes.
More next week!