Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fashioning Your Ideal Character

So far, I've written two books, and I'm in the process of writing my third. In just these works, I have fashioned over thirty-five characters.

And that doesn't include the characters that will be introduced in the sequels.

It sounds like a lot, but if you go back and think about the books you've read, you'll probably find that they had a similar number (this is, of course, including minor characters). With so many characters in one story, there is always the question of how to properly create these characters. How do you make them unique and well-rounded, especially the ones with only a brief role in the story?

I look back on my books, and I can honestly say that I'm happy with all the characters I've created. I believe that's because I try to answer certain questions before I create them:

Who are they?
What do they look like, and how does their look/style reflect who they are?
What is their goal and how are they going to achieve it?
What purpose will they serve in my story?

Then of course I factor in age, gender, applicable background information,etc.

Here's an example of how I would answer these, using one of my characters in my upcoming novel "Lokte."

Who is she?

Her name is Patricia Garcia, although her name is never mentioned in the book. She is an elementary teacher who has cancer. She is also the main character's mother.

What does she look like, and how does her look/style reflect who she is?

Though she is not seen much in the novel, she is Hispanic with dark, narrow eyes. She has light lines across her face, indicating she is in her early fifties. She has lost her hair from chemotherapy, and she generally wears clothes that are comfortable. This is to reflect that she lives in the country and teaches children, so she has little need for fancy attire.

What is her goal, and how is she going to achieve it?

Her goal is to ensure that her only daughter is alright. She tries to achieve this by calling Marianne daily to stay updated on her life.

What purpose will she serve in my story?

Her condition drives Marianne to wish for a better life. That's where Logan Lokte comes in.

So in just four, easy steps, I have created a solid minor character.

One of the other things to remember is this: none of your characters should act like their just a part of your story. Everything should feel as real as possible for the reader. So when considering the words and actions of your minor characters, remember this: in their eyes, they are the main character. If you can do convey this in your writing, your characters will be diverse and colorful.

I know this is a little short, but I thought I'd share my ideas on writing characters :) . Have a great day everyone!

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