Read Local by Tag: characters
Part one of this dual prompt is from the book Writing with Emotion, Tension, & Conflict by Cheryl St. John. It is about getting to know your characters:
Your character must leave quickly. In five minutes, he packs everything that's important into one small bag. Describe each item that goes into the bag, and tell why it's important. Have the character say something about one or two items.
The complimentary second part will help you elaborate on those item descriptions and, through doing so, express even more about the character.
That might be an imaginary dialogue, but each statement reflects a real attitude. Each represents a real perspective that can be true of not just New Year's Day, but of a person's general framework for life. Everyone has a time perspective. Everyone tends to view things through a past, present, or future lens that colors and defines their experiences. It's not a trait we usually consider in defining ourselves and others, but it's a very helpful way to gain insight into who we are and how we will react to given situations.
How many times has a character in your work needed to do something you have no experience with? Is there a feral cat his girlfriend is crying over? Obviously, he has to capture and tame it before their anniversary next month. Did a co-worker just pass out in a diabetic coma? What does that look like? A little research goes a long way when throwing obstacles at your hero.
Every writer knows that characterization is a huge part of a story’s appeal. There are countless books on developing characters, infinite articles on making them believable, and 6,439,209,000 PINs on Pinterest about getting to know those characters.
Instead of wasting our precious writing time reading Pinterest boards, let’s do it!
“Remind yourself that if you think you already understand how someone feels or what they are trying to say, it is a delusion. Remember a time when you were sure you were right and then discovered one little fact that changed everything. There is always more to learn.”
Sometimes, when trying to define just who or what something is, it’s easiest to begin by figuring out just who or what it is not. By eliminating possible options, our focus narrows and something fuzzy can begin to emerge from what’s left. “I’m not sure that I’m a pacifist,” you might say, “but I know I don’t believe eye-for-an-eye vengeance solves anything.” You still don’t know what you are in that instance, but you have narrowed your possibilities by determining at least one thi
In her book Writing Begins with the Breath: Embodying Your Authentic Voice, Laraine Herring recommends interviewing your character to gain a deeper understanding of who they are. Here are some fun sample questions you could ask your character: