I’ve been meaning to do a post about characters for a LOOOONG time. Characters, to me, are one of the most important aspects of any book I’ve ever read. Now, don’t get me wrong because there has to be a good plotline and world building involved as well, I’m just saying that it’s the characters that make the story.
Take for instance if I was to mention a few character names, you’d know right off the bat what story/movie I was talking about. Why? Because they’re memorable characters. Don’t believe me yet? Let’s play a game. I put up a character name and we’ll see if you remember what story/movie they’re from.
Okay, so my question is, did you know most of these answers? They were from Pride and Prejudice, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Star Wars, The Hunger Games, and Twilight.
The point is, when writing a story you need to keep your characters in mind. And most of all you need to know what makes them tick. It’s hard to write a story if you know nothing about them. How are they going to react to the situations you put them in? Who are their friends? Do they have any special powers or qualities? Are they quirky? Where are they from? What are their favorite colors, food, song, and movie?
Before diving into any story I write, I always try to sit down and get to know my characters. In order to do that, each story I write gets a handy dandy notebook (okay, totally had a Blue’s Clues flashback from when my kids used to watch it). This notebook will become my story “Bible”. It is where I do character sketches (not drawings LOL, I’m so not artistic). When I say character sketches, I mean I list each characters name, their ages, physical descriptions, friends, likes, dislikes, favorite foods, quirks, any problems they might have. I then try and figure out what connection they have to the MC (or if they are the MC). And if it’s an antagonist, I try and flesh out why they don’t like my MC or what made them like they are.
I keep this notebook to jot down notes about plot, setting, time lines (only if needed though). Any time I need to know something about my character or I forget what color eyes so and so had, I can go back and read up on it.
In my opinion it is important to flesh out the characters because the more you know them, the better you can write them. And there are several exercises you can do in order to “meet” them or “get to know them”. One, you can start a notebook and get to know them that way. Or you can sit down and have an interview with your character. Make a list of questions and respond to them as if your character was answering them. Write a blog or journal entry from your character’s point of view.
What is it about a story that grabs you? Is it the characters and their plight? Or are you more into the world building and plotlines? I think all these things go hand in hand, but I’ve never put down a book if I love the character.