Monday, May 7, 2012

From the Inside Out~~

Your Fictitious World 
Part 1:

Know Your Characters 
Inside & Out

My credentials are over there  ☛

↓↓ My advice begins below  ↓↓

     Most novels, especially in  genre fiction, are character driven. As author it's your job to create men, women and children your readers care about, cheer on, fret over, rail against, loathe or love.

     This happens when you make those characters three dimensional. Heros need weaknesses; villains need strengths.  

You need to know how they got that way.  

     From their grammar & speech patterns to their philosophies, the ethnic, socio-economic, physical and emotional backgrounds you devise should~~must~~affect your characters as they make their way through your story.

     A fraction of this information should/will wind up in print. (Beware the dreaded info dump, but that's another blog.) Instead you want it filling your imagination as you create fully formed characters. Then when the Martians land, the will is read, the prom date arrives an hour late, your reader is right there in the scene, breathless with anticipation. NOT shrugging in an armchair muttering, "What the heck, he'd never do that."

    Create a character sheet for every important member of your novel. List, manipulate, design the cast you're about to bring to life. 
 For one thing, 
these preliminaries save you time 
in the long run. 

 For another, 
it's  a lot more fun than actually 
writing       the       book. 

~~Some suggestions to get you started~~ 

  • Full name & significance, if any
  • Full names of parents & significance, if any
  • Occupations of parents 
  • Go back another generation. Include grandparents
  • Family dynamics: Two parents? One? Which one?
  • Siblings & ages, order within the family
  • Religious affiliation, if any
  • Full physical description
  • Education:  Name & location of schools, K-thru whatever. Public or private? If private, day or boarding?
  • Economic background: Old Money, New Money, No Money?
  • Incidentals: hobbies, pastimes, allergies, cravings
     Whether your character works against the background you’ve devised or reflects it in stereotypical detail, you’ve provided a solid frame on which to weave voice, behavior, attitude and goals as you hook your reader with their tale you’re telling.


Augusta Scattergood said...

Oh, boy, does this ever take me back to Lee's porch and those early writers' group meetings! Your words of wisdom taught me a lot. Thanks for the reminder. Now I'm off to create some new characters!

About Karen Williams said...

Stated creatively, in a nutshell. This writer knows her stuff.

Carol Baldwin said...

I agree with Karen--this is a good nutshell synopsis of what we all need to do. Thanks! looking forward to part 2.

Lee Stokes Hilton said...

Such a great post. Works even for those of us who write about our own lives -- remembering to make yourself a 360-degree character.