Hello, I’ve returned.
Now that I’ve gone over what to do for inspiration in general, I think it’s time to get down to specifics, specifically about characters.
Naming your characters is probably one of the hardest things about writing. Do you go with something plain and ordinary, something completely unassuming? Do you make their names unique and original? Is it better to make their names mean something or pick something at random? Should you use their names as a source of irony, a statement on the rest of your piece, or find a name that suits what they are?
These questions are things only you, the writer, can answer. It depends on what you want the individual character to be, what you chose for the name, and of course the genre of the piece. If you want more specific ideas, you can look up names on baby naming websites, (because let’s be honest, some characters feel like your children), or you can look up what words mean in other languages, or even find names that mean a trait you want to point out in your character.
One of the most important things to consider when designing the physical appearance of a character is to make him or her realistic. Don’t chose beautiful, model archetypes — no one is flawless, especially not you characters. Make your characters read like actual human beings. Describe both the good and bad parts of each of them.
It’s okay if you want to base the way a character looks after a real person. In fact, I encourage it, but I don’t think your characters should look exactly like your real-life model. Alter some things, combine traits from several people, and make up some on your own too. I believe in your creative powers!
Ah, the personalities of your characters. How much variation could there possibly be? Are they mean and snarky, quiet and kind, loud and fun? Mixes of these, none of these, possibly one and not the other? Are they likable? Detestable? Pitiable?
I’ve found that if you put into stone the main character’s personality, the other characters’ tend to fall in place. It all depends on what you want their relationships to be like with the main character. Consider how the main character would feel about your other characters and go from there.
Find your inspiration on character’s individual personalities by considering how you want them to interact with each other.
The skills, talents, and interests your characters posses should vary as much as their personalities do. If they are similar in personality, give them similar interests. If the characters couldn’t be more different, widen the gap by giving them different skills. Of course, you could do the opposite too. Give similar characters different things to set them apart from each other, and give similar things to opposite characters.
Again, take your character inspiration from the real people and relationships out there, but don’t make it too obvious or the real people might notice.
The best thing you can do for a character’s backstory is to make it tie directly into the plot of your story. You can take individual details from real people, or even yourself, but not too many. We want an original character, not a carbon copy of someone real. Also keep in mind that a character’s backstory will effect of they react to the actions of other characters and other events.
As for speech patterns, make the dialogue between your characters sound authentic. Read it out loud if you have to. Listen to the way the real people talk and take notes in your head like I talked about in the first post. Writing convincing dialogue will be hard if your don’t know how real people talk.
Remember to factor in geography and time period too!
I hope you found all of this helpful! Characters are complex, hopefully, and to write them well, you need to consider both details and big pictures. Rely on what is real and your creative interpretation of it, and you can totally do it. 🙂
Please come back next Monday! More poetry will be up on Thursday too!
Yay, okay, bye.