Before we dive into the next topic in the Writing 101 series, there is a housekeeping issues I’d like to address. I have decided that I will publish writing posts not once but twice a week. You heard correct. That is twice not once a week. These days are Monday and Friday. I am going to try my best to get one done and published on Friday which will begin this new routine. Now for this evening’s topic.
Every book (whether good or bad) has characters. It is not a book or a story with a cast of main characters and secondary characters.
As the title suggests, main characters are the ones that drive the story.
For example, Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings drive the story. The same goes for Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.
What should an author’s characters look like? Most characters are shaped from the author’s experiences. They are a form of who the author knows and of herself.
Developing characters that are based on yourself is totally okay too. Many authors before us have done this. I have two examples of this.
The first comes from one of my favorite childhood authors: Madeleine L’Engle. She wrote the famous Wrinkle in Time series and the Vicky Austen series.
When asked if she was like her heroines, she responded that she was both Meg Murray from A Wrinkle in Time and Vicky Austen.
My second example is J.K. Rowling. Rowling based the character of Hermonine a bookish young red head on herself.
Now, how does one go about forming a character? Well, it is safe to say that it is good to start perhaps with a name. Then from there start describe the person. Does she or he have blue eyes? Brown? Hazel? What hair color do they have? Where do they live?
But characters are more than just how they look. You need to make them three dimensional.
What does that mean? It means you must make your characters as real as possible. Readers must feel as if they characters they are reading about are real. Like someone they have known all their lives. Otherwise they won’t care about the story.
A while back I came across a wonderful worksheet for writing characters. A worksheet that goes beyond just giving your character a name, eye color, and hair color but it goes deeper to help you flesh them out.
I hope you find this chart helpful. Please let me know how forming your characters goes in the comments below. I’d love to hear how it goes! I am also filling out this chart for my characters in my new story.
Comment below and I will share how it is going for me as well. Stay tuned for the next installment which will be coming out on Friday. Until then, happy writing!
This is part of the Writing Series, Writing 101 with Gabrielle Emmons. The first post was “How to start a novel”.