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!
12/4/2013 01:22:14 am
Yay, thanks for the tips! (I feel so special. ;D) As I was reading through the character skeleton my thoughts were pretty much this, "Shoot, I don't think my NaNo characters have that determined about them yet. What religion is Matthew???" NaNo editing begins.... *sigh* I've always thought that what's more impressive than saying "I wrote a novel" is saying, "I edited a novel".
12/4/2013 03:25:31 pm
I feel about the same when I go through Rick Riordan's skeleton! He has so many little things I just sit there like "Uhhh... sure. I guess they could do that!" And congratz on NaNo! Dont worry that it shrinks :P It tends to grow again once you have someone else read it and they say "Uhh, this chapter? I have no clue whats goin' on!" And then you have to add more to make it actually make sense. Oh, and I agree on writing vs editing :D
12/4/2013 06:11:10 am
Thanks for the tips. I'll have to do this when I do NANO WriMo next year. And yes I promise that I will actually try to write something worth reading.
12/4/2013 03:26:51 pm
Yay! NaNo is great :D And, i totally remember those Character Conversations. We had quite a stockpile of very unique characters for that script. If I ever have a lot of free time I might write a short story using our characters from that for our enjoyment :P
12/5/2013 12:36:45 am
Shame I think it got scrambled and lost in cyberspace for each of us... if we ever find a way to recover it, do we want to try continuing on Google Docs? Or maybe starting over? We still all have to be on at the same time for the fun of it. :)
12/5/2013 12:54:17 pm
That would be a lot of fun. I'll check around on echalk and my thumb drives to see if I can find it at all.
12/6/2013 06:35:29 am
I checked, but no luck ;( I really thought I had it somewhere!
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The Author of the Dream vs Reality series and student at AFNORTH International High School.