Thursday, August 16, 2012

Books & Writing: Creating Characters

How are you doing with your characters? Are they becoming real to you? I hope so. I'd love to hear about some of these interesting people who are coming to life.

Something you might like to think about while developing the people who live in your books is . . .

Character Traits

I've listed some traits. As you go through them, ask yourself which traits your character has. It may be more than one. Remember to think about what the motivations are for the traits.

• Image Trait
This person is someone who wants to put forth a certain image to others. It is often not who they are. At least not completely. Often this characater is obvious to spot because who they want to be is exaggerated. Generally, they are not authentic. 

They may not realize who he/she really is. Writing the scene where they discover the truth is a lot of fun. This truth will evolve and come to light at the end of a story. What is even more fun is when the reader doesn't know who the person really is and it comes as a surprise at the end of a tale. 

• Human Trait
A character who is late all the time, or clumsy, or overweight, or has some other weakness they struggle with. They may be viewed as mentally slow or irritating. In my Matanuska series I have such a character. Her name is Miriam Dexter. She was especially fun to create. Miriam suffers from chronic allergies, so she's sniffling and snorting and using a handkerchief a lot. She also has a funny habit of pushing up her glasses by using her cheek. I know someone who does this--they gave me the idea. 

Miriam can be irritating, but she’s also an endearing character because she's a sweet woman with a good heart. 

Generally a human trait character will draw a chuckle from readers and helps to lighten a dark story or ease tension within a scene. 

• Self Discovery Trait 
This is a character who makes discoveries about him/herself. He wants to know the truth, even the ugly truth. This person is often introspective.

• Mistaken Idea Trait
This person holds a wrong belief at the beginning of a story, but discovers the truth by the end of the book. Anna, in my first book The Journey of Eleven Moons is a good example. Throughout the story she discovered the truth about many things, but the biggest misconception she had was that the white man's God was cruel and unfair. The truth is gradually revealed to her and by the final pages she gets it.

• Wrong Attitude Trait 
Is generally an embittered person. They can be a sympathetic character because he/she understands what it means to live a life of pain or challenges. He may have lived through hardship and is unwilling to release the resentment accumulated. Sometimes this character discovers the truth too late to change.

• Flawed Character Trait
This is the guy everyone loves to hate--the bad guy. Even bad guys aren't all bad (not usually anyway) so find a way to balance him by giving him some redeeming qualities or a reason why he behaves the way he does. 

And if you want to satisfy your readers, he needs to get what's coming to him. There was a really bad man in my second book, In the Land of White Nights, named Jarvis. I had so much fun writing the "he gets what he deserves" chapter.

• Supernatural Trait:
A good example of this trait would be Yoda from the movie Star Wars. He was never changing and even continued on after death. This type of character isn't found only in fantasies or science fiction. There are lots of people in our lives who are special and I don't mean weird. This character should have special gifts or insights, whether he uses them or not.

Have fun writing. 

Grace and peace to you,


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