Monday, August 29, 2011

Calling All Writers: Characters

First, I would like you to clap. I'm staying up to do these, and I should be printing homework instead. Or reading. Or organizing for tomorrow. Oh well. I love my blog more.
Right! That's what we're supposed to be doing!
   Characters. Ahh. Those torturous things that keep us up at night knocking on our heads going, "WHO AM I?", and then we wake up and try to figure it out. Ways to figure it out without (well, maybe) going insane:
  1. I made a spreadsheet for one of my novels, and so far, it's working. Divide it into sections, fill it in, and KAPOW! it's all your characters.
  2. Character Profiles: These annoy me. I like orderly things and easy to access, and these were neither for me. I don't use them.
  3. Locking the info into your brain: Doesn't work. Don't try it.
  4. Writing it down, piece by piece: You could try it... But don't.
  5. I don't have a number five. You got one? Shoot me an email or comment.
   Characters are important to the story for many reasons. A) They rule the conversation. Without them, there would be none. B) They are the story. C) It's obvious. They are needed. Characters are needed for the story to exist, to work, to not work, and to make it make sense. You don't have characters... Well, that isn't possible. So make some characters, and make them work.
   The biggest thing to remember: Your characters need a motive. What do they want? What do they need in order to live? What makes them do the things they do? Answer these questions before you write a word, or you can figure it out along the way, but I'd go with the first one. 
   Second biggest thing to remember: They need a voice. Who is your character? How do they talk? Are they snarky, funny, rude, ignorant, polite, nice, needy, whiny, annoying, etc. Once you unearth these, you can write some decent dialogue that matches your character. Find trends in how they talk. (Check out Gimme A Call, the character discovers a trend in her speech. It's awesome.)
   In order to have characters who interact well, you need to know their relationships, their history, their secrets, their faults (these make them relatable), their strengths, the things that make them angry and blow up, things that make them melt with love, etc. You need to know every single itty gritty detail. You can figure these out a you go along, I just always forget or they don't match up. Make your character unique with their own voice and style. 
Examples of awesome characters with depth and a voice:
1.Harry Potter: He has a voice, you understand why he does what he does.

2. Grace from Shiver: You get her, her decisions, her love, her trust-issues.

3. Nora from Hush, Hush: One of my favorites, because you understand why she doesn't want Patch, yet she does. Awesome.

4. Katniss from The Hunger Games: Awesome motives, character confliction, decision making - awesome example.

5. Cammie from Gallagher Girls: Motives are clear, reasoning is clear, it all is clear.

Get the idea? Now go write some killer characters.


  1. Characters are so important. If a reader doesn't care about the character, why will she care about the plot? She won't care what happens to them.

    Great reminder.

  2. Thanks for commenting!
    That's an awesome reminder. LISTEN TO HER EVERYONE!


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