#FridayFives: Characters You Love To Hate

#Fridayfives is hosted by The Non-Binary Librarian. Honestly I could probably come up with dozens of characters I hate with a fiery burning passion, but let’s keep it simple for now. Maybe someday I’ll make an extended list.

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10 Tips on Creating Compelling Characters

Image result for characters

 

  1. Print out and fill in a character sheet (or write one of your own)

You can find many character fill-in sheets online, and it can help you flesh out your character as well as remain consistent with different traits, particularly physical. Don’t limit yourself to filling out a character sketch of just the main character, either… write sketches of supporting characters or even minor characters, if you think it might help you creatively.

 

2. Try to make your characters realistically flawed.

Nobody likes a perfect character. Mary Sues and Gary Stus rarely make interesting reading material, allow your characters to make mistakes and display moments of unlikability. The characters in my fiction tend toward being extremely flawed to the point of being  potentially off-putting, but endearing characters are more likely to be a hit with most readers. If they’re too perfect, however, they run the risk of becoming saccharine.

 

3. Picture your characters in situations in your mind that they don’t run into in your story.

What would your character do if they were suddenly drafted in the military? What if they went to prison? What if they suddenly lost their best friend? Running your character through a variety of situations in your head can help you get to know them better. It also might help you take your story in a different direction than you originally intended.

 

4.  Create a family tree.

This might be seem a little obvious, but understanding your character’s family relationships might help you understand your characters themselves. Even if your characters uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents etc don’t make an appearance or even aren’t mentioned, they might help you figure out your protagonist and the extra thought you put into it might help inspire a future project.

 

5. Pick out pictures of people who resemble your characters.

I wouldn’t suggest you spend too much time with this, it could potentially take away from time you could spend writing. I have trouble doing it because my characters tend to be very specific in appearance, but my mom had a lot of fun doing it with her first novel, The Optimist’s Apprentice. It can help you flesh out your characters in your mind and it’s an entertaining way to get more involved in the world of your story.

 

6. Write a list of public figures, people you know, and fictional characters that resemble your protagonist.

I wrote two lists of characters that reminded me of the protagonist of my second manuscript, Fantastic Feats of Self-Destruction– ones who had parallels to him as a kid and ones who had parallels to him as an adult. It’s mostly just for fun, but it can also help you decide if your characters are overly derivative.

 

7. Write a character interview

Ask your character a series of questions about themselves so you can get to know them better. You can set it up any way you want, I actually had two of my characters from different manuscripts sit in the same chair while an unnamed female character interviewed them about their lives.

 

8. Write down a list of your main character’s favorite things (books, movies, music, etc.)

If you’re the kind of person who likes to put pop culture references in your writing, this might actually make it into your manuscript, but even if it doesn’t it’s a good way to get to know your characters. If you are interested in trying to figure out what a character from a certain generation might like, ask some people who grew up around a certain time what media they like for inspiration.

 

9. Come up with a playlist for your character

This is just for fun, but it might help get the creative juices flowing. What songs remind you of your protagonist? Also think about making lists of songs that don’t necessarily remind you of your character and aren’t necessarily songs they would like, but rather ones that might incite an emotional reaction in them. For instance, attaching songs to certain memories your character has or making a list of songs that might make your character cry are both potentially fun and beneficial exercises.

 

10. Interview your other characters about your MC!

What does your main character’s boss think about them? What about their boyfriend/girlfriend? Exes? Mom? Dad? Brothers or sisters? The characters orbiting your protagonist’s universe might help you understand your main character’s relationships better.

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Update #2

I thought I’d share some of my inspiration for my writing projects over the past few years with my readers. I’ve written excerpts from many of these on this blog and you can find them by clicking on the ‘fiction’ tag on my tag cloud. I want to thank everybody who’s been reading my blog, I never expected to get this many readers this early on. Y’all are the best. 🙂

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