I’ve been hard at work the past couple of months on getting A New Destiny finished up and ready for release. I’ve cleaned up and completed three chapters and am up to 35,000 words on the way to 90,000 +. That’s why you’ve not seen any new posts from me. During this time I’ve also been reading several books on writing, grammar, how to create a character, novel plotting, and outlining. I thought that this may be a good time to maybe share some of the stuff I’ve been learning. So for the next 6-8 weeks I’ll share some posts about creating characters for your stories. Along the way I may even share some snippets from A New Destiny.
So, without further ado, let’s create a character!
The First Step to Create a Character
Think Of A Character
The first thing that you obviously must do to create a character that is compelling is to think of a character that you would like to write about. This may sound easy – i.e. George was 5’10 and average weight, worked in an office from nine to five, had a wife named Martha with three kids, and likes to eat Papa John’s and watch NFL. Yes, this a character, but do we really want to read about George? George is downright boring! Most of us would agree that no, we would not. So how do you make someone a little more interesting than George?
One word: complexity. A character must be complex in order for that character to make an impression on the reader, and that is your ultimate goal. There are several ways in which to make a character complex, which will be discussed in the next step.
Make Your Character Interesting
Where do you most often see a homeless person eating dinner? You’re probably thinking maybe McDonald’s, out of a can, or not eating at all. But what if you saw a homeless person dining at a five-star restaurant, and dabbing his scratchy beard with a silk napkin? And what if that homeless person drove a Astin Martin to his cardboard box behind the Piggly-Wiggly? This homeless person has just gotten a great deal more interesting. When the character’s appearance is conflicting with his thoughts or actions it makes the reader wonder how or why this is happening. This technique can be applied to to create character that is truly compelling: altar boys who deal cocaine, a gangster who rescues cats form abusive homes, or grandmothers who drop ecstasy.
Get Inside Their Head
Once you create a character and know what makes them interesting, you can write about them. To make these characters three-dimensional, though, you must know how those characters would function in different situations. One way to get to know your characters is to map out a typical day in their life. I will to use the animal-loving gangster as my example:
Vito wakes up at 7:30 A.M. every morning to the meows and gentle cuddles of his twelve rescue cats. He feeds them and gives them their flea medicine before downing a shot of whiskey with his coffee. Vito then eats a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, and toast and checks his email. There, he spends the rest of the morning cleaning his twin 9 mm Glocks and watching the Godfather. At approximately one pm he heads upstairs to change his clothes. Vito puts on his white shirt, a white tie, and a black pinstripe suit, then neatly folds his white handkerchief and places it in his left breast pocket. He goes outside to his animal control vehicle and heads out to answer the emails calling for the rescue of several cats from any number of abusive situations. Sometimes the owners give up the cats willingly. Sometimes he has to use his twin 9 mm Glocks and a shovel. He arrives back home around 6 P.M. with a take-out plate of lasagna and garlic bread from his cousin Vinny’s Italian restaurant. At 10 P.M. he heads to bed, cuddling with his twelve rescue cats. He then wakes up at 7:30 A.M. to start it all over again.
Once you know what your characters do on an average day, you can determine how they will react when faced with different situations.
Now that you know your characters as well as yourself, you can finally write!
Question: What is your favorite character like? Tell us about some of their compelling traits. You can comment here.