Get to know your characters.

“There are certain fictional character’s deaths you will never recover from. Ever.”

Spoiler alert…

I don’t know about you, (or maybe I speak on behalf of everyone who’s a keen reader) but I take fictional characters very seriously.

One minute, you’re enjoying your favourite book as a child and then BOOM. Dumbledore gets blasted with the killing curse and you don’t know what to do with yourself. You stop reading as you feel your world crashing around you and you really don’t know whether to carry on or not. You were starting to come round to understanding why Snape acted as he did but that guy was obviously a lunatic from the start. As you can see, I never fully recovered…

I think what I’m trying to say there is that when you get so involved in a story, you become so attached to certain characters that if something tragic happens, you feel a little bit of heartbreak. A bit of a loss. That’s because your mind has invested so much time into getting to know a character and his or her way of life. It’s strange in a way. A good book will always make you think you personally know a character, even though it’s pretty obvious you don’t.

What’s also rather funny is that loss you feel after finishing a book, or from watching that final episode of Breaking Bad. You’ve followed the story-line from start to end, and when it finishes…

‘Now what?’

As saddening as it may be when this happens, that’s the sign of a good story. A story that’s had time and effort poured into it, and for something fictional to have that much of an impact to our thoughts and emotions… well, that’s pretty amazing to me.

Something I didn’t do at the start of writing my own story, (which I deeply regret) and is something that’s next on my story to-do list, is create character profiles. I was rather stubborn when starting my story. I read about creating profiles, but I never actually sat and did them. I thought I knew better, obviously…but when getting to a certain scene, my mind thought, “Hang on a minute. How would my protagonist react to something like this?” That’s when it hit me.

Who even are my characters?!

And then, I saw something else. Thanks again, Life is Strange.

BtS_Character_Note_Chloe

The ultimate character profile in the form of a diary entry. A profile which not only describes who Chloe is, but really brings out her rebellious character and witty sense of humour. I can’t tell you how much I’ve loved reading these, not only for Chloe’s character, but for all main characters in the series. You don’t even have to play the games to know what they’re like as fictional people, (although I would definitely recommend it.)

My next task when working on my story, is to come up with a list of characters and write all about them for as long as it takes, and before you write anything on your story, I recommend this is something you do too. If not, you’ll reach the same place I did, questioning whether your main character is a human or a dog. Hmm, ideas, ideas…

Decide what your character’s likes and dislikes are. What is their gender, their age, and what do they like for breakfast on a Sunday morning? The more detailed you can be with your character profile, the more you’ll be able to get inside their heads. The more you’ll be able to feel their emotions and think their thoughts. How would they react around someone they loathe, how would they cope with embarrassment? The possibilities are endless and I guarantee you’ll have so much fun with this.

Think of it like playing The Sims. The first thing you do before you do anything else is create your characters. You can’t create that scandal or top the medical career in just 2 and a half days if you don’t have a character (and don’t have cheats enabled). You choose their traits. Their interests. Their dislikes. Their appearance. Everything. That character is in your hands, and that’s exactly how you should feel with your own story’s characters.

I’m sure you’ll all have your own favourite book or even a story based game, and you’ll most definitely have a character in mind that you’ve connected with. Using these characters as starting points and getting a few ideas from these can really help when coming up with your own collection of characters. However, don’t replicate your favourite characters or make stupidly similar characters. I don’t think I need to express the fact that your work should be your own, and the world only needs one Nathan Drake.

I guess another question you may be asking yourself is what sort of a character to create. There is no right or wrong answer to this and it’s honestly completely up to you. If you need a little inspiration, there’s one activity that most of us do every day, probably without even realising, that could really help.

People watching.

Yes, you do it. Everyone has at some point. Ever been in public waiting for someone, just watching the world go by? Waiting in that long queue in Asda, silently judging them for what’s in their trolleys? I thought so.

BUT, it’s the perfect opportunity for inspiration. I guarantee you. The next time you’re out and about with an hour to spare, go to a cafe with a notebook and pen, grab a coffee and watch. Watch how people speak to each other. Watch how parents react when their child drops their ice cream down their clothes or when they’ve sold out of flapjacks at the counter. You’ll get so many ideas for the personalities of your characters by carrying out a simple activity like this. You’ll be amazed with the ideas you get and the profiles you create just by observing others. Just don’t let your coffee get cold.

How do you get to know your characters and where does your inspiration come from? 🙂

 

 

 

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