Write Good Characters

CharacterEver been stuck trying to come up with a good character?  I’ve recently discovered that I write the best stories when I have a very clear idea of my characters.  For me it had to come down to more than whether they are good or bad, I need to feel like I know them.  Know what I mean?  I’ve also found that it has greatly reduced incidents of writer’s block, and that’s always a bonus.

When I sat down to start writing my last book for National Novel Writing Month, I had a pretty good mental outline of what was going to happen…mostly.  So I started thinking about the “who” of the story, and made some notes on my main characters.  Since I knew (roughly) what was going to happen and which people I wanted readers to cheer for, I assigned them names (more on name selection in a previous post) and began writing their history.

Now, when I say I write my characters’ history, I’m talking pretty detailed stuff.  I come up with their physical description, age, hobbies, maybe a nickname, their vehicle, what kind of dwelling they live in, and so on.  All of that information may not make it into the story, but it helps me to write them when I have such a vivid mental picture.

Still struggling to come up with a character?  Think about family members or people you work or associate with.  Just make sure if you base someone on a person you know, you change the character enough so as not to tick off the real person!  Most of us know someone who could be the start of a bad guy, a good guy, a trollop, etc.  If you can’t think of anyone you know, go out to a mall and people watch.  You could come up with all kinds of things about people from pure observation.  Just unleash your writer’s imagination!

Years ago I joined a manuscript club in northern Minnesota.  One of the members (an 80+ year-old woman whom I still consider a dear friend) surprised me when she told me her secret about writing characters.  She told me she took great joy in writing evil characters based on people who somehow wronged her in real life, and then extracted her revenge by killing them in her story.  Now that is advice worth passing on.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: