Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Where do you find your characters?



Dreaming up a new character may be one of the easy parts of the writing process because we writers have great imaginations. Most of us day dream for a better part of any given day.

To bring a character to the three dimensional person or animal the reader can care about is another story and for some of us, a little more difficult to do.

What you picture in your mind about the character you are writing about must come out on paper in words for the reader. Those words must affect the reader in some way, and you help to decide how you want the reader to feel by your choice of description with words.

Those words may be specific descriptions of hair, eyes, body type, or clothing but those words need to do more to bring your character to life.

Here are some other ways to bring pep and zing to your character and to make the reader love them or not.
  • Use action to show who your character is and what he or she cares about. If your character is walking a little elderly lady across the street it may endear him to the reader. On the other hand, if your character pushes the same lady in his haste to get through the crowd with no regard to who he bumps, the reader may not like it. Either way they will want to read on to find out what happens with this character if you choose your words well.

  • Dialog is another great way to make your characters realistic and to show who and what the character stands for. Dialog can hint at culture, setting, date/time of a scene, and any number of other things like the age of the character or the type of education, home life, or financial situation a character lives with.

  • Character names will bring realism and detail to a story. Readers will imagine their own ideas about a character just by associating the name of the character to who or what they know related to a similar name. The carefully chosen name can make or break the relationship between the story and the reader.

  • Emotions show much about your story and your characters. The reader must feel something while reading about your characters or they will not turn the page. The writer must use words that elicit raw emotion so the reader will care about what happens to the character. Emotion is weaved into the plot of the story by using words to create conflict and tension for your character.

New writers will learn how to use all of these tips to create the kind of story that grabs the reader, makes the reader care, and gives the reader no other choice but to buy the book and to keep reading. In the end, the goal is not only for the characters to grow and change throughout your story, but to move the reader into taking some kind of action for personal growth and change as well. The reader should always feel something for the effort of reading your words.

Now go create a character or two. And check back soon to meet one of my new characters. Can you guess her name?

Happy writing.

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