Monday, 19 September 2011

And Then, From Nowhere....


SURPRISE!

Don't you just love it when characters have a mid-life crises?
Or a mid-draft crisis, as the case may be.

As anyone who's following me on twitter knows, I had a bit of an issue with two of my characters. I kind of knew it in the back of my brain, but thank goodness for my fabulous crit partner. She was so sweet, but she basically said she wasn't sure about those two characters. They weren't clear in her mind.

And, as always, it came back to this - the characters weren't clear in my mind either.
I'm the author.
Anyone else see the problem here?

So how does an author characterize people in her novel if she has no idea who they are?

1. The ever popular character-building sheet. I like this one - it's really fun - and this is a good one too.

2. Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words. Find a picture on deviantart that matches your character. Search model websites. It's not creepy, it's research!

(This may characterize your MC in more ways than you know)

3. Make your character a song playlist. Really, this can nail down a personality better than anything. It may be harder for characters in fantasy/sci-fi/historical fiction, but it's still very possible.

4. Show them off! Why did you write the character in? Why do you like him? Go back to that reason and expand.

Have you had a hard time pinning down the personality of any of your characters? How did you handle it?

XOXO
Bethany

P.S. I promised a contest, and a contest I will give! Look for details Wednesday/Friday - as soon as I have time to set it up, I will!

14 comments:

E.R. King said...

It's easy to think up a character but harder to stay true to him/her. If my character has a mid-draft crisis, it's because I've self-imposed on him. Once I stop butting in, he does just fine on his own.

Lisa Gail Green said...

It's so true that if it isn't clear in your mind it will never come across to readers. I've done that way too many times. I like to write a page or two from that character's POV. Sometimes I interview him/her on the page. Usually I find out some pretty interesting stuff and get a better feel for them.

Lydia Kang said...

OMG, the mid-draft crisis! I may have to borrow that!

Lisa Aldin said...

I kind of like to imagine my characters as a color. Like PINK or NAVY or COPPER or SAWDUST. It makes sense in my head, I promise. =)

Talli said...

Oh yes, have I ever! I always need to think about what they want, and why they want it!

Laila Knight said...

I've recently had an experience like that with a villain character..had to add more depth so readers to could relate to her. All a part of writing. :)

Lynn said...

Oh, yes I have this problem. I've even changed their names as the story progresses! I'm still learning what character worksheets work for me, but really like your idea of gathering a play list for each character.

L.G.Smith said...

I thought I had my character down pretty good in my last novel, and then I had an agent reject it last week because she said my character was unstable (!). Then a reader pointed out a couple of places that she agreed with the agent. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

Carrie Butler said...

Character sheets, pictures, and playlists? That's one of my favorite parts! :)

P.S. I love that "surprise" GIF. :D

Jemi Fraser said...

Those are all good ideas. My characters tend to run around in my subconscious for a couple of weeks - & I get to them there :)

Tara said...

Almost all of my characters have songs. Music really defines them for me. :-)

Christina Lee said...

Totally! Then I stop and think, What do they want, how are they trying to get it, and who might stop them? Great post!

Phil Hall said...

Sometimes, my characters grow and morph a little in the telling of a tale--even the throwaway characters that exist only to advance a single scene. That's where the real fun comes in. Nothing is more interesting than letting the mind go and writing away on a draft and coming to a conclusion that you didn't know a particular detail until you wrote it. It's good stuff.

Misha said...

Also, do a character interview. :-) That works wonders, if you have time to sit down and do it. Still, it's a very pantser thing to do.