Saturday, April 23, 2011

Writing tips- Realistic characters

We've all read that book where we've fallen in love with a character. And then there's those books where we down right hate a character. Sometimes it's intentional by the author and other times the author didn't intend for that to happen.

A character can make or break the story. Usually when people read a story, it is the characters that they remember. As writers we want the reader to experience what the character is feeling. If a character is grieving because her dog died, we want to grieve with her. If a character is excited because he's going to see his favorite team play, we want to be excited with him. But if a character is bland or is fake, a reader can almost instantly tell and that will turn a reader off.

If your worried about your characters seeming real, try picturing a really emotional scene and write it down as it comes to you. There's been times when I get so caught up in a scene that I start to cry. I want to make my readers cry at that part, so I write it down as if I'm going through it myself. Of course if you've experience these feelings yourself, it's easier to make that seem real because you know what it's like. I probably wouldn't do such a great job writing a scene where a character grieves for someone because I've been blessed to have never lost someone really close to me.

Other important factors when creating characters are how they interact to their environment, their emotional and mental states, and how they look. If there is a house on fire or someone got shot, most often than not, people will either run towards the event or run away. The only reason someone would run into a burning building is if they could help or they were a fireman. You would not stay inside a burning building unless you a) have a death wish, b) you don't notice the fire, or c) are trapped. If someone is shooting gunfire into a crowd the natural reaction is to run away from the danger.

Adding mental issues to characters can help and explain why they do something. Most people love going on roller coasters, unless you're like me and you have a phobia of roller coasters. Adding phobias or compulsions is a great way to learn more about a character. You can find lists of really odd phobias and compulsions by looking in a dictionary of them or on a mental health site/book. For example, did you know that triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number thirteen?

Deciding how a character looks is harder than you think. I've probably changed Anastasia's eye color at least five or six times before finally deciding on blue. Their appearance may even effect how they are treated or how they view themselves. A character may have an abnormal birthmark and therefore will try to cover it up in order to avoid teasing. Their appearance may even show that there is something different about them. In my  novel, The High Prince, Anastasia's blue eyes turn purple when she is using her gift. And the Fairies and Faerie (yes in my books, they are two different species) have tattoos to show their accomplishments or powers.

So, my question for you is, who is your favorite/most hated character? Why? What made you feel that way about them? What books because of the characters did you love or hate? Why so?

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