Haven't I Met You Before?

Today's topic is creating characters, mainly because this is what I've been focusing on myself. Lately in all my writing I’ve come across something, or rather, someone, over and over again. This character I’ve created. Always a girl, always in her teens. And even though her name changes by the novel, she’s always my main character. She herself never changes. This is what I’m working on: Creating separate personalities.

If you think about it, what we do as writers is pretty neat. I mean, we’re creating actual people. Sometimes people even more real than the ones we know in our lives. Characters with personalities, quirks, habits, beliefs.

Anyway, after I finally got tired of meeting this character over and over again in my books, I did some research. I looked up many different methods of creating those separate personalities. I discovered that it really helps making the character before even beginning the book or mapping out the plot, keeping in mind what kind of personality will best suit the story. Making a short biography for this character, first off. Then deciding the aspects that will make this person unique. Physical appearance, temperament, hobbies, fears, dreams.

It helps to find ideas outside of my own mind, browsing magazines, newspapers, anything that will feed the need. Reading and looking about and at different people. I even went all out and put post-its on the wall with traits and such on them as visual image.

But even all of this isn’t enough. This character needs strengths and weaknesses, possibly the most important part of a character because these are what drives the story, gives it turning points, ups and downs. So not only does the person have to be likable, she needs to be real. She needs flaws. She absolutely can’t be perfect; that’s dull. Flaws make things interesting. It’s the little things that matter, surprisingly, because in the end, they seem to make the most difference. Readers love characters that they most identify with. But in my opinion, this isn’t always what’s most important.

What’s even trickier is that this character has to grow and change throughout the story. Choices and decisions spurred on by the traits I’ve given her. Life is never easy, in this world or the ones we create, and there won’t be any plot if the character isn’t strong enough to face them.

Yet another side of the character that makes things complicated: Facing life. How would she react to certain situations? What would she say in confrontational circumstances? These have to reflect who she is. It’s all fun and goes to show that writing really is work.

So, yes, back to the fact that what we do as writers sounds daunting and impossible, but every day we're doing this.

Those are my scattered thoughts for this Thursday. Thanks for reading. Now I must go back and figure out who this girl really is.