Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Few Simple Things You Should Know About ALL Your Characters

Quite the title, isn't it?  lol.  But anyway...

This post is about getting to know your characters.  And by that, I means ALL of your characters, from your MC to the little girl that ran down the street that you never even considered naming.

When I'm writing a story, I often find that characters seem to resurface themselves.  It's like being on TV: once you get a taste of it, you kinda want it to happen again.  Well, your characters are the same way: they want to show up again, and without even realizing it, you may accidentally reintroduce someone to your story.  And when that happens, you want to know a few things about them to give them depth.  Because the only thing worse than a flat main character is a 3D MC surrounded by flat minors.  Trust me.

Now, I know what you're thinking:  "Maddi, if I give backgrounds to all of my characters then it's going to take up all my time and I won't have any time to actually write my story!"

Well, this is partially true, so I will admit that I did over-dramatize it a bit: you only need the background on characters that reoccur within the book or that play an important role at the point in the story that they're present for.  But it really is key that you know something about each and every one of the characters. 

So these are a list of the top five things you want to know about ALL OF YOUR CHARACTERS!!!

1.  This is the simplest and probably goes without saying, but in needs to be said, simply because it is the most important.  You absolutely must know your characters Name!!!  First name, last name, and middle name, if they have one.  This doesn't have to be something extremely intriguing; it's just a name.  I often find myself giving completely insignificant characters very common names, likes Bob, Tom, Roger, Susan, Mary, etc.  If they're not an important character, they don't need an important name, especially if we don't say it. 

2.  The Basic Features of your character plus One Major Detail that stands out from all the others.  For example: your character is African American with black hair, amber eyes and a slim figure.  These are the basic features of your character.  However, you also notice that this character has a slight tilt to her nose, that makes you think she must have had her nose broken at one point.  This is a single detail that, though it's small, it's something that your characters will associate with that character that makes her stand out from the other African Americans with black hair and amber eyes.  By giving these basic details and this one major detail, you can give a description of the character that gives the reader a detailed enough description about the character that they can picture him/her without going into so much depth that it bores them.  (This rule mostly applies to minor characters; the major characters should be FAR more in-depth than this.)

3.  Your character has a home, don't they?  So you need to know Where Your Character Lives.  This can be something vague like "I live in the country, in a small, brick house," or something more detailed like "I live at 418 Westburry Ave. in Plainsville, Kentucky."  (I totally made that address up, in case you hadn't guessed.)  But you want to know at least a bit about where they live.  The location of your character can often have an impact on their personality and how they react to situations. 

4.  I always like to have One Interesting Fact about my character.  For example:  "Sarah has read the Harry Potter series through over 100 times."  It can really be anything.  But something that you can bring up in a conversation that makes the reader go "Oh!"  It's a lot like the one major detail thing: it's something that the reader can associate with your character that makes them stand out from all the other characters.

5.  Everyone has a Family, right?  Well, at least everyone has a set of biological parents.  You should know who your characters' parents are (even if they don't) and the relationship that they have with them (if one even exists).  If they have sisters or brothers, you want to know that, too, as well as anyone in the family that they're extremely close to.  Along with the family, you also want to know who their Friends are.  Anyone that plays or has played a key role in your character's life.

So there you have: Maddi's list of the Top Five Things You Should Know About Your Characters.  Again with the mouthful titles.  -sigh-

Well, that's all I have.  Know I haven't been posting a lot lately, but I hope this makes up for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment