Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Books & Writing

Last Wednesday, we took a small step toward creating memorable characters. This week--one more step. But before we begin, did you come up with any ideas about the character I showed you, about who he is? His name is Tom in the book I'm working on. This week I have a new character. I'd love to know what you think about her.

Now on to the fun of creating characters.

We want to move beyond the basics.
Consider what is going on in a character’s life. What are the struggles and conflicts they face today? Their successes and joys, hopes and dreams. What do they want more in life than anything else? What do they fear most? And if they've walked through fire in the past what was the outcome? How has the past effected the present? 

During this period of creating a character, you as the writer, need to give yourself time to consider each person in your story. Who do you need and why do you need them? Allow yourself time to let your imagination run free. 

Make sure the characteristics you give to each character contributes to the story you have to tell. There needs to be a reason they are who they are.

Create a family for your main characters. Get creative. 

What were their parents like? Did they have parents? Siblings? 
What was their relationship like with the rest of the family? 
If there were conflicts, what were they about and what was behind them? 
How did conflicts manifest themselves? 
What kind of home did they live in? 
What was the neighborhood like? 
Where have they lived? 
What was home life like--rigid, free(maybe to much so)?
What is their relationship like with their parents and siblings today? 
You get the idea.

Create a history for each character. This will help them become three dimensional, which is what you want. If they are real to you they will be real to your readers and that way readers will care about them. If they don't, they won't care about the story and that can be a disaster.

You want to think about the big and little things. Include things like:

A favorite childhood pet.
Favorite or least favorite food (why do they hate strawberries?).
Best friend. 
Fun they had or pranks they pulled. 
Traumatic experiences and do those experiences still plague them? Or did it make them wiser and stronger?  
What are some of their special memories? 
What kind of relationships have they had--friends, family, lovers. 
If they've been in love, how did that work out? Has it effected the way they feel about romance today? 
Have they lost someone they loved? 
Vowed to never love again?
What do they want for their future?
Dreams & aspirations--do they believe they can achieve them?

Consider what it is about their past that effects who they are today. We all have pasts. Where we've been and what we've done shape who we are. 

These are a few of the questions you can ask yourself. I'm sure you'll come up with more. Do your best to be thorough so when you're writing your story you'll understand your characters so well that you'll know how they'll react to the action, relationships and situations they encounter in the lives you create for them. 

A reminder -- ask why. It's important to know the why's about your characters if you want to present them realistically and consistently to your readers.

There's lots more to talk  about when we create characters, but we'll get to that next week. 

I hope you discover more of the sharp edges and soft places in the people who tell your stories. Have fun!

Grace and peace to you from God.


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