Hopefully, you’ve now got a name for your main characters and you’ve followed up the whole naming process with an interview that’s really helped you get to know your character. If not, check out my first post, Character Building, here: https://scribbleywhile.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/character-building/
If you’re all up to date, then here’s the next post on planning your characters.
Once I’d finished my character interviews, I did a table to compare their responses to the questions I thought were most illuminating. For me, that meant a table with four columns: one for the question and one for each of the three main characters. I just wrote a bullet point summing up the characters’ reply to the question. This actually proved quite interesting, as it showed one of my characters to be hugely superficial in comparison to the other two, but it’ll also be useful when planning your actual story as you can see how your characters will respond differently to a given situation. Of course, this is only useful if you have a small number of main characters, like me (I have three). If you have lots, it’ll just end up taking you forever.
Another useful thing to do is to reflect on these key areas of your character:
- Their backstory
- Their goal
- What they long for/ need
- Their fear
- Their identity (the front they present to the outside world to hide their true self)
This is really important! By now you’ve done the interview and discovered several traits in your character that perhaps you hadn’t realised were there before– now you have to find the reasons why your character is like that. Even in characters that you think kinda just are– there’s not much to them- there’s a reason why they are like that. For example, Harry Potter’s parents were killed because Voldemort wanted to kill Harry (backstory). As a result of that, Harry’s really wary of people getting hurt because of him, which affects his behaviour- e.g. he breaks off his relationship with Ginny. If JK Rowling hadn’t considered how Harry’s backstory would impact on him, the character would be a lot less realistic than he is and his behaviour a lot less explainable. Again, considering these points will really help you when you’re concentrating on your plot and actually writing your story because you’ll know your character that bit better and will understand their reasoning behind doing something in the story. If even you don’t understand why your character is doing something, how do you expect anyone else to? For more info on this point, visit: http://blog.janicehardy.com/2012/08/the-inner-struggle-guides-for-using.html
Finally, you probably want to think about what your characters look like. You might have covered this already, for example their fear is being ugly so they put lots of make up on and pretend to be super confident (their identity). To be honest, I haven’t really thought a great deal about what my characters look like. I’m a firm believer in the whole “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” mantra and I find it much more interesting to think about characters’ personalities than their faces. Maybe when I’m writing I’ll go back and think about what my characters look like, but if you’d like to have a face in mind when you’re writing, perhaps you could draw a picture of your characters or have a look on the internet for pictures. Actually, on Wattpad you can pick a ‘Cast’ for your story so it might be an idea to follow that- look at actors or celebrities and kind of draw inspiration from what they look like for your characters.
- Do a table to compare your characters’ responses to their interviews (see Character Building I). This helps you see how they would react differently to a given situation.
- Think about your characters’ kind of “inner” self– their background, their goal, what they long for/need, their fear, and their identity. This gives you the reasons why they are how they are, which may be useful bits of information to incorporate into your story.
- Think about what your characters look like. Perhaps this means looking at photos of people, drawing a picture, or creating a “cast” for your story from the actors we hear about on a day to day basis.
In addition, as I’ve been finishing off my own character planning, I’ve been reblogging stuff I’ve found useful from Tumblr here: http://scribbleywhile.tumblr.com/tagged/character Just if you folks wanted to check them out!
My next post will be on fixing the actual plot of your story, so see you then!