Thursday, January 28, 2010

the art of a character

People in general never stop to think about how much goes into creating a character. Those of us who aren't readers (which none of my fellow bloggers fit this profile) however there are people who don't read, don't really know how to relate to a character. Now those of us who read love to relate with a character, find a piece of them inside one person, maybe not the main character, but they might know what it's like to feel the pain of another character.

Do readers ever stop to think how much went into creating the character to get the emotion the writer wanted to convey? Now I don't believe that every character needs a background, a detailed description of their life, but for those main characters I find it crucial.

Common Questions to be asked... Where do they work? What do they do? Do they enjoy their job? Is he/she a people person?

There are so many questions to be asked, even basics such as how do they like their coffee? Or does your character sing in the car or are they too uptight? Now those are just silly questions, but my point is that to create a character is as much as the process as the plot. You want to know your person, feel their pain, feel as if you are them.

I truly enjoy discovering the likes and dislikes of my character, if they are well traveled, or if they prefer tea over coffee, silly little things like that allow you to be more in touch with your character and that is something I find fascinating!

15 comments:

Tamika: said...

Creating our characters in the most thrilling part of writing. The discovery into their inner turmoil and quirks always surprise me. Just when I'm sure I have them figureed out they throw something new my way.

My struggle is how to infuse the secondary characters...Donald Maas is helping me with that in chapter 2 of Fire In Fiction! Thanks Mr. Maas!

Kimberly Franklin said...

I agree. Creating a relatable character is something all writers should strive for. Because if we can't relate to them then why would we care about their story?

I lcve creating characters and figuring out what makes them tick. : )

Happy Thursday!

Summer said...

I've been putting tons of thought into this question lately (and will probably blog about it soon). I'm most interested in genre-specific character types, and what really makes the ones that stand out sing true to the reader.

Michele Emrath said...

So true, and such a loooooooooong process! It is also fun to watch the people around us and write their characters. A writer is a people-watcher on paper.

Interesting post.

Michele
SouthernCityMysteries

Elana Johnson said...

Before I was a writer, I was a reader. And I can honestly say that it never (NEVER) crossed my mind how much work it takes to make a character into someone great. NEVER.

And holy brown cows, does it take a lot of work.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Before I began taking my writing so seriously, I never gave it a thought. Now, I can't STOP thinking about it. :-)

Kimberly Job said...

I recently picked up something I hadn't worked on for a few months and I realized I had forgotten major details about my character's lives. Writing them down beforehand would have been extremely helpful.

Nice post. :)

Sharla said...

It DOES take alot of work and thought!

I relish the quirky bits of a character. I'm a very visual person, in fact when my writing is the most successful, that's when I'm seeing it like a movie. I see the characters do a scene again and again till it's right... complete with body language and facial expressions. That's easy to achieve onscreen, but that's my biggest challenge...how to convey that with words. That half-second eye twitch on screen that says everything...can turn a story around. I need to do the same thing in MY story. My biggest challenge... deep sigh...

So making my characters real is vital to me, and I also like the crazy stuff. Lip chewing, nail biting, weight-worrying, PMS, nervous habits, whether someone is a cat or a dog person. All the things we do in real life.

Bethany Wiggins said...

I think a good character is the most important foundation for a great book. And to create an amazing character, you have to know every detail of his life. SOOOOOO much work!

Eva said...

Some of those little things are the most important things to know about your charachter. It forms who they are. I spend way too much time getting to know my charachters but I love that I feel like they are real in the end.

Faith Pray said...

I agree!
Finding out the little details about your characters, whether it ends up in the manuscript or not, is all part of what holds things together - the skeleton under all that muscle and skin.
Plus, I find it helps me really know my characters if I can learn to think the way they think. Like developing a liking for ginger cookies and hot chocolate with marshmallows if my characters are craving them.

Jen said...

Sharla - I think choosing the crazy stuff is what truly makes your character real, makes them more you, more relatable... no one wants a normal blond who falls in love with prince charming!!! They want the girl who has to make chocolate chip cookies every monday night, and only on mondays!!! The crazy stuff!

Faith - I love the ginger cookies & hot chocolate comment! This is too true!!!

Danyelle said...

Discovering my characters is what keeps me writing. For me, the characters are the story. Without them, I would have only words on paper. With them, I have worlds. :)

Julie said...

I agree. A well-written character, whether good or evil, is crucial. I love to see a writer really develop a few of the main characters. It helps really get into the story and visualize it.

Alex Jenson said...

I use real life people I have met or known...sometimes i mix different people together to create a composite character, then i give the person a few traits that the real person does not have. But I only choose people who to me are genuinely interesting, unique or different. And if it bugs anybody it probably won't matter, because some of them were not friends anyway, merely very interesting people that I had known and observed for a while. I am pretty sure that all the most dynamic and interesting characters were based on real people in some shape or form, but in fiction I think you have to give your character some living space and room to breathe. They should be so well constructed that they can dictate the story to you.