Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Character Building

Do you have a character that is just a loose ink spot on your page? Have you tried to build your character up so that you can get inside of his or her head? Why not try looking into your character’s head, write down pivotal elements of their personality and build yourself a character that a reader will absolutely fall in love with.

Your reader wants to connect to your character. By making them believable with human characteristics that are usually flawed characteristics, our reader can join in the journey your character is taking.

Take a look at the people surrounding you every day. Don’t pick a specific person and make that person your character with a twist, (you might offend the person.) But take that person, let’s call him Fred who sits behind you at work. Then take John who sits in front of you. One likes to chew and crack gum, the other despises gum cracking. Here you have two different personalities clashing.

Merge these two into one. Be creative so that neither of the two can even remotely guess that you used them as ‘character references’. Notice idiosyncrasies in people. As you become aware that you are hunting down traits for a character, you’ll notice more.

Give your character personality, whether it is a high-strung business man or a homely waif living on the streets. Make their personality individual to them. By fleshing them out you are building yourself a character.

1. Give your character a good strong name. Mary is overused. A strong named character is a way to spell success!

2. Give them a birthday and astrological sign. Help define who they are through an astrological analysis.

3. Give them a quirky trait. Do they have a tic? Is their sixth sense finely tuned?

4.Give them a background. Did they grow up rich or poor? Were they in a religious family or not?

5.Give them dreams. Are they an optimist or a pessimist?

6.Give them a phobia. Noting their fear of something (like all of us) we will relate to your character through this fear.

7.Give them physical characteristics. Define who they are by the way they appear. Their hair color, nose size, ear size, color of their skin, birthmarks, height, weight and any other feature that might stand out in your mind.

8.Clothe your character. They will need clothes and it is your job to dress them. Will they wear a tailored suit? A poodle skirt? Hip-huggers? Remember the ERA of your piece and dress them accordingly.

9.Give them siblings or make them an only child.

10.Now give them a mind. Live vicariously through this person that you have created. Bring them alive through the magic of your words.

You have now created a character! With a little work, your character might become the next Odd Thomas!

1 comment:

June said...

Excellent suggestions, Joni!

I have used some of these and found them useful. I also like to take a moment from their childhoods and explore that (something important in the character's early life)...

Take care,