CHARACTER, Part 2: Making your characters come alive
As we discussed in our last issue, good writing is about making your characters come alive. But what makes a character come alive? First, the character has to be real to you, the writer, if you want him or her to be real to the rest of us (the readers). The key to doing this is to stop thinking of your characters as ...well, fictional....and start thinking of them as actual people. (If you start talking to them out loud, well...you may have deeper issues but for this exercise, it’s okay...)
1. Where does your character live? In the world of TV shows, what a character’s home looks like and where it is located makes all the difference. Picture Magnum P.I. living in Queens or Compton. He’s not the same characters anymore, is he? How would his clothes, car, mannerisms have to change? Unless you are spoofing a character or penning a fish out of water story, your character and his abode need to match up.
2. What makes this person unique? Why will he/she remain in the reader’s mind long after the book is finished?
3. Imagine your character in a variety of settings. How does she/he act at home vs. at work? With children vs. with adults? On vacation vs. in his/her regular neighborhood? This is especially important if you are writing a series character because the spice of a series is to see a character the reader has come to know well constantly facing different people and new challenges.
4. How would your other characters describe your protagonist? Then match that to how your protagonist would describe himself. The differences in the two may be what influences your protagonist’s personality.