Your characters in your story aren’t going to be realistic in their appearance, their behaviour and how they actually talk to others, if you can’t demonstrate to yourself that you know them inside and out.
They will appear dull and flat with nothing much to keep your reader interested and entertained. Plot alone is not good enough to keep your readers reading.
To turn your lifeless characters into realistic, vibrant, interesting characters you can use this technique as follows:
- Firstly, create your character by imagining a picture of them in your head and writing their name down in the middle of a sheet of blank paper. Spend a few minutes drawing lines coming from the name and against each line, label as much information as you can around that character, i.e. physical appearance; occupation; say what they care about?; age; what is their fatalistic flaw; what do they dislike and like; who their relatives are; how do they travel etc. https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=spider+diagram&hl=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=8DuBUMCPK8OJ0AWX64DQBg&ved=0CDAQsAQ&biw=1366&bih=643
- Secondly, we must imagine more about this character in order to learn more about them, we can do this by using an internal and external exercise. Sit down comfortably, put your feet firmly on the floor, hands firmly on a table and close your eyes. Imagine that you are the character and make a mental note of what you feel, see, hear, smell, taste and the time of day. Now write down this information underneath your spider diagram using only a couple of sentences.
- Thirdly, imagine that you are back as your character in the same place as before. Now follow the same exercise again by putting your feet firmly on the floor, hands on the table and close your eyes. This time imagine that you are leaving the place where you first imagined, where your character initially stood and you are going to take a look around as you move. Record in your mind the details of what your senses pick up on your journey. Look from left to right, behind you and straight ahead, what do you see? What do you feel? What can you touch? What do the items feel like that you are touching? What colours do you see? What do you smell? Why are you moving? Where are you going? What do you hear? Can you taste anything? Do you have any other thoughts? Open your eyes and in a couple of paragraphs write down this information, now you have the bones of your character in a possible story setting.
- Next, on paper write down an issue that this character feels really passionate about. Obtain a friend who has completed the same exercise from points 1-3 already, if you can. One character is going to be A and the other B. If you have another person to help you then each person will be the character that they have created. A must argue the point and B must counter argue until there is no further line of arguing/questioning left for each character on the issue. If you are unable to locate a friend to help you, then you are going to have to create another character and basically become both characters for the purpose of the exercise (or just interview the character A that you have created and you yourself would have to be character B). Make a note of the information that you find out about each character as necessary. Then when you have exhausted that issue, another issue can then be picked to discuss again and then both A and B can swap around so that both characters can have a turn to argue and counter argue. This happens until you are satisfied that you have a good overall rounded picture of your character(s).
- Sometimes the issues picked to argue about can be very difficult to get going with initially as your characters can be so diverse. For example, talking about the issue of grief/bereavement when one character is an 18th Century lady and the other is a 40 year old university lecturer, arguing about their views. This exercise will make you think outside of the box and identifies where your weaknesses and gaps in knowledge are about your character. It also makes you have a good idea about how they talk and interact realistically with other characters. Another way novelists seek to make more rounded characters is to get their character to write a letter to their mother on a particular issue. It is best to pick an issue to discuss that you wouldn’t normally talk about e.g. do you believe in euthanasia? After collating all this new information about your character, you can then use it to go ahead and create a scene for your story using your character and any other, with plenty of dialogue. Your dialogue should be realistic and in character now that you have taken the time to get to know them quite well.
I would be pleased to know whether or not you found this article useful? Also, what other methods you use as writer’s to make your characters more rounded. Of course please feel free to share this article if you know someone else that may find it useful.
Thanks, Lee 🙂 .