A great Character will carry a story like a man who saves a child from a burning building. We have seen characters that drive our imagination like Albus dumbledore, and the white wizard in The Lord Of The Rings. Great storytelling derives from great characters. A good story can only carry so much weight but without actively grand character’s the story will fall flat.
You can’t learn to steer a boat by sitting still and allowing it to flow. You must place your hands along the wooden wheel trying to gather it for whichever direction you are sailing. A book is a lot like a sailor’s ship I find. Bland character’s won’t guide the ship into a rocketing, riveting, page turning, and tear jerking novel. We want to read the imperfect woman who struggles finding her way, or the child who learns she has super powers but loses those powers over a decision. We strive to read uniquely formed characters with adjustable and unpredictable personalities.
Today I will discuss finding that niche that makes a character stick out like a spongebob popsicle instead of a bland push up ice cream pop. A character should be flawed because humans are flawed. We are not perfect beings who know everything or can solve cancer on our own. Humans need to research about life and what better research do we get than in creating a character who holds our fears in their hands? What better character is there than the moral decision that Ned Stark made to go to his death in Game of Thrones?
When creating a voice for your character you want them to scream individuality, or trouble that needs to be solved. A reader needs to crave to read the voice of that main character as if they were eating scoops of mint ice cream out of a pint without stopping. When you think about it a novel is told as a character makes a solidly bad decision and must live through it like Harry Potter uncovering the sorcerer’s stone in the very first book. It sets the tone for all the other disastrous decisions he makes before having to make it right again.
I find that the best way to do character development is to jot down a character biography sheet that explains in detail what kind of a person that character is. A good example of a character sheet that can help keep your character’s in check during a story is my character Kevin for one of my detective stories that I did for fun.
Name: Kevin Neilan
History: Kevin is the cool guy in school like the kid who never did homework but somehow always had perfect grades. Class clown a-go. The story goes that he befriended Kenny in fifth grade when Kenny’s entire family moved next door in a huge mansion.
He undoubtedly developed a crush for both of Kenny’s sisters, and went through women like water. By senior year the pair started to have a rocky friendship as drugs started to become involved with the two.
The real strain between the two is that Kenny had money. The guy never had to work for anything in his entire life. He was jealous of Kenny and as time passed he began to hate the boy’s cocky attitude and inevitably found himself the lead suspect in his friend’s death.
Good: Warm hearted, works hard, calm, humorous, intelligent with math, strategic
Bad: Obsessive, womanizer, druggie, Jealous, consumed by hate
Theme song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N11iPqb8MT0&feature=youtu.be
If you notice I try to do my character sheets as short mock ups of characters so that I have a detailed but not overly detailed product to look at and tweak during my stories. I like freedom and I like knowing the voice I am speaking from and the voice of other characters in my stories even if they are not important. I would suggest giving this a try if you want to better understand character creation with adding in more information but not revealing it within your story this would be the best way. Your note taking skills will appreciate it.
My advice here is that a lot of great writers lack the ability to lose themselves in their own writing. I can not write if I think about what I am writing. My words must flow out of my fingers before I can process any of the language being spewed out on the page. I call this process becoming another person. Writers are the catalysts to being adept actors as we toy with lives in our own world trying to make meaning in a unorthodox story.
What makes characters have depth is that as a writer we can feel the same empathy for our creations as we could for a friend. Our characters must be flawed like us or else our readers won’t become adamant about what happens next. Writers must shed tears like a reader while making their own work for it to have an effect. A film maker doesn’t make a billion dollar movie without shedding at least one tear for the story.
One problem most writers have is keeping a character damaged. Harry Potter is a damaged boy all throughout the series considering how much death and destruction he witnessed it’s no wonder he managed to kill Lord Voldemort who had inner qualities of himself. Or Lestat who must fight with his vampire side for a majority of his life in J.K Rowling’s stories.
A good example of one of my damaged characters stems from the site on creative freedom rpg. He is a werewolf. You can read the story here: http://www.creativefreedomrpg.com/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=41924 However, I will grace with how I introduce my characters to help show that character development should start with the very first paragraph.
“The wind came from the south. A bad sign for the small creature hidden behind the tree. Snow was drifting ever so lightly. The creature breathed in and out as if the cold could destroy it easily. Any warning of a malicious beast near by was ignored because of a tiny sound resounding in its ear. Before the beast could make its move and attack , the creature stood up as if aware that if it sat there any longer it could freeze to death.
The hunter watched in wait. Snow was used as a barrier against the sound of it’s paws. If it could only follow the creature more closely. Green eyes leered at the creature who had it’s back turned to it. This creature was not small but it was defenseless with no weapon. A human…but the human made no difference to the hunter. Prey was prey after all.
Humans were interesting beasts. They walk, and act funny in the cold. Their body shivers slightly with each passing of the wind. White flecks fall into locks of hair, and discolor the perfect black hair that adorned the being’s head. It began to run as if trying to run from the shivering cold. The sudden human running startled the predator if only for a second. A lurch forward and powerful paws beat against the snow leaving foot prints behind that would later get covered in another feet of snow.
A chase had begun. Breathing becoming scarce as the prey was losing its ability to run. It did not know what was chasing it till a slight turn of its head. Then an awe shattering scream escaped the male human and its feet pounded faster in the woods. Maybe the human shouldn’t have listened to the small portable CD to release its memory of home life. This would be the ultimate mistake.
It was too late. The hunter leaped in one fluid moment. Fur, claw, and teeth sunk into the human’s back. Drops of dark red littered the ground, and the body was torn as the creature ate it’s skin bit by bit.
Samuel awoke with a start. His breathing was just barely seen in the crisp morning air. The haunting dream has been occurring lately more and more. He was pretty sure it was tied to a memory of his teenage years…not that he could remember the beast back then.
A month had gone by since that fateful night. The snarling, clawing, fighting, and death. Death was almost a shadow to him. Losing Sherman was a huge loss and it stung. He still hadn’t shaken off that night when he awoke to a wolf biting his right paw. Anger did not cover the rage he held for that wolf. The wolf did die but it was because he was blinded by rage and anger at being woken up from a dream that was not a nightmare. It seemed dreams were a bad omen for him ever since then.
His heart was pounding to say the least. After a few deep breaths he was able to calm down. Cig. He needed to smoke and bad. The addiction was not so much a physical thing. It was mental. Physically his body did not yearn for the drug like most humans do. Instead, The drug had a psychological healing effect. It would calm his anxiety over nightmares, or outburst of emotions that the beast gives him. His cigarettes are rollies with white paper thins, and brown looking nicotine.This way when the pack goes out to town they don’t have to worry about him on every trip. Just those rare occasions when things get just too tough.
Everyone had their own little cave space here. The space he had was next to Tyler. Not a bad little spot at all. His sweaty t-shirt needed to be changed before he could head to the campfire. He shed the shirt and threw on the last remaining decent smelling t-shirt. Then proceeded to make a cig. Out of respect he smoked it in his little space because using a lighter had to be used sparingly. Typically, He smoked near the fire but at the moment laziness had taken over.
After about five minutes he left to the fire in the center of the cavern. Shadows from the flame licked the walls of the cavern. Sera was sitting by the fire already.He had just missed Riot apparently. His arms reached up in a giant stretch. There was an animal carcass just thrown down. Most likely breakfast.
He sank down next to the fire observing what might happen next in a curious silence.”
I find making a character is a lot easier than enacting my characters within a story. How do you feel about character creation and how do you create your characters? Comment, share, and like I’d love to hear from you guys and with love ,
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