Category: Characters

The “Boxes” I Put My Characters In

The “Boxes” I Put My Characters In

People say it’s bad to put people in boxes, and the same applies to characters. I say that if you know they won’t fit neatly in the box it can help you get to know your character to put them in it. It can help you understand their values and flaws and strengths better. Here are the boxes I’m mostly talking about:

Harry Potter Houses: Yep. I’m a nerd. Although, not a Harry Potter nerd. I have yet to read it. (Long story short: It’s on my tablet and my tablet broke.) However, Continue reading “The “Boxes” I Put My Characters In”

Through A Character’s Eyes

Through A Character’s Eyes

When we write characters, we have to get inside their heads. We have to know what makes them tick, how they see the world, and all sorts of things about how they’d react to certain situations.

I actually kind of talked this post out to myself on a video before I wrote it, and I realized that this isn’t going to be a post about how to get into a character’s eyes, like I thought it was, but rather sort of a post about how you know that your character is well-developed, because a well-developed character will kind of develop his own voice and you’ll kind of just slide into his mind when you need to.

There have been three characters in particular who I have really enjoyed writing or been surprised at my ability to write because they’re so different from me and have such different voices from me. The first of those is Rynn Aryon.

Rynn is the princess of a currently-unnamed country who wants to work to protect her country from the encroaching Vollak. Vollak are basically like werewolves. Rynn wants to protect people from these monsters because no one else really is. They’re kind of just watching as these Vollak kill citizens of their country, and those who do care can’t really do much about it. So Rynn disguises herself and goes to take control of the army and get their rears in gear. Now, Rynn is very sassy. She’s quite possibly my sassiest character. She always has a response for anything thrown at her, and she’s extremely quick-witted. I, on the other hand, am not really one of those people. Occasionally I’ll think of a good comeback in time to use it, but most of the time I don’t think of responses to things until five years later. This is why it surprised me when I started writing Rynn and her sass just flowed off my fingertips onto the screen. I could come up with comebacks as fast as Rynn could, and it was a really interesting experience because it’s very unlike me.

Rynn is the only example I can think of of a character who is so different from me it surprised me I could write them, but there have been a couple of characters whose perception of the world has really fascinated me and who have been really interesting to write and see interact with other characters and with the world around them.

One of my favorite characters to write, probably, is Cordain Celebar. He’s one of the three main characters of The Heart of the Baenor. He’s an elf, so he was raised in a rural area with good morals and a strong faith in God. Because of this, he sees everything as pointing to God and as a beautiful creation, and he basically sees the whole world through rose-colored glasses. This gives him a measure of naivety, but it’s also crucial in his interactions with other characters.

A similar case to Cordain is Quentin/Pellan Shyle (I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep his original name or change it). He was raised in Cron Hatal, the capital of Kaloris. I’m not entirely sure yet what led to his worldview, but he pays great attention to detail. He believes that details are extremely important because they’re what make up the whole. He records details about everything in a thick, leather-bound journal, which Catessa (the main character) finds strange because she pays attention to larger things and things that directly affect her, not details. She doesn’t find details all that important, so she doesn’t understand Quentin/Pellan’s fascination with them.

It’s always interesting when you’re able to easily get into a character’s head, and I consider it a trait of a well-developed character, at least when that character is one that is very different from you. If you can easily write a character who is opposite of you, you’ve aced the development of that character.

Character Development

Character Development

Character development is something that I really enjoy in writing. I enjoy getting to know the characters, being surprised by them, falling in love with them or being repulsed by them, some of my characters even scare me. Characters are the first thing I notice in a story, because they’re the main part of the story, possibly even more than the plot itself. They’re who the story centers around and you have to be able to at least tolerate them for the entirety of the book. Unfortunately, I’ve read some books that I could only go so far as to tolerate the characters of, or whose characters downright annoyed me. So how do we get to know our characters inside out so that we can make readers love our characters? (Make is a bit harsher a word than I want, but I’m not thinking of one that fits at the moment.)

In this post I’ll cover some exercises that can help us really get to know our characters.

To begin I’m going to say that I agree with Shaelin from ShaelinWrites on YouTube in that I think you get to know your characters best by writing them. I suggest watching her video on exercises to develop characters, because it’s really good. I really like her whole channel, actually, though there are rare occasions on which when uses the S-word, which I would warn you of before you start watching them. Further warning, I can’t in good conscience recommend the videos that include her brother because he cusses more, and in one (Writing High Fantasy) he drops an F-bomb, which is really a shame because otherwise it’s a really great video, but overall her channel is cleaner than some other writing channels I’ve seen. Anyway, that turned into an unexpectedly long bunny trail. *cough* Let’s get back on track, shall we?

I think you get to know characters best by writing them, and so most of the tips and tricks in here will probably have to do with writing your characters in one way or another.

Since I linked to Shaelin’s video I’ll just give short explanations of the methods laid out in said video, in case you’re not going to watch it, and if you’d like them expanded on you can watch the video.

The first method she suggests is basically word association. You make a list of things that remind you of your character. The second method is to grab a list of adages (curiosity killed the cat, the early bird gets the worm, a watched pot never boils, etc.) and write how your character would feel about these adages. Would they agree or disagree with them? Method number three is to write scenes about your character. They can be scenes from the book, or just random situations that you throw your character into and see how they react to. The last method she suggests is to make a pyramid of motivations, which I can’t really explain and you’ll have to watch the video to get explained.

And now we get into my suggestions. One of the things I do the most to flesh out a character is to role play (RP) with them. I tend to RP with my best friend since she’s also a writer and I don’t really have many other people to RP with, and we just toss our characters together and see what happens in certain situations. We have soooo many RPs going at once it’s not even funny. A lot of them end up neglected, and the majority of them focus on the same core group of characters that we call “The Squad,” but that’s not something I suggest, lol. It’s better to play around with different characters, see how they react to different people, different situations, etc. Some will get along really well and some just… won’t, just like in real life, and it’s really interesting to see those relationships unfold. A couple of my characters and hers have actually gotten married to each other in alternate timelines, so… yeah. AUs (Alternate Universes) for the win!

You can also use character profiles. These can be more or less helpful depending on what questions are on it. I’ve actually learned a lot about characters from templates that have deeper questions, while more shallow ones are just a “laundry list of facts,” as Shaelin calls them. They’re not really helpful. So if you can find a really extensive, deep character profile, I suggest filling it out and seeing what you learn about your character. The only downside to these long ones is the fact that they can be really tedious to fill out. I have one that works well for me that a friend of mine gave me and I altered slightly, and while it’s really, really helpful, I also occasionally have to take breaks when filling it out because it’s so extensive. And there are some that are a happy medium, and those are pretty good, too. Again, it depends on what questions are asked.

These are the best ways I’ve found to develop characters, and hopefully they’re helpful for you as well. :)