Friday, December 24, 2010

Who are you?

That's right, "Who are you?" who are you people of my stories? You characters that walk about in my mind and create a setting, a time, a new beginning. I know you have likes, dislikes, fears and baggage. But who are you? If I saw you on the street today, would I recognize you?
If my answer is 'yes', then I've done part of my job as a writer and have gotten to know you fairly well.
But if my answer is 'no', well then, I best be getting back to the drawing board and start 'hanging out' with you.
There's no worse thing than an underdeveloped character. I fear I've had many of them. I don't know them enough to keep their eye color the same, let alone keep their likes the same. A character should be someone you know inside and out. After all, who is easier to write about, yourself or someone you've never met?
I've done the Character Trait Questionnaires, but they're the same-old, same-old. I always end up having too many similarities because I feel forced to put something down. In my mind it's like I'm interviewing them!
I mean, can you really get to know that celebrity through a couple interviews? No, you can't. You'd have to hang out with them, get close to them, talk with them. Now I know this is completely impossible when it comes to a character that I've created in my own mind, but the equivalent to it is writing. Let me explain:
I think the best way to get to know a character is to write about them. Not just in 'their' story, but do small subplots of their life outside of the "Work in Progress".
See how they react when they aren't in a life-or-death situation.
See how they react when they aren't head-over-heels in love.
Put them in a situation that they'd never come across in 'their' novel. Pull them out of the pages of the red book and put them into the pages of a blue book. See what happens, I'm sure you'll discover something you never would have otherwise.

What creative ways do you get to know your characters?


  1. I just take a character I need to get to know better, and try to journal form their point of view. It helps me see what's important to them and what's not. To get familiar with their voice and how they phrase things. Its like a glimpse into their minds. And I've found that it works really well for me. After all, journals can be pretty personal things. So what better way to get to know them than by reading their journal?

  2. I build my characters on people i know and people I've met, but I tend to mix it a little bit so no character corresponds exactly to one particular real person. And the characters live in my mind for quite some time before I feel like it's ready to be written down >:)

    Cold As Heaven