Our newest AU contributor is Cara Rowen, an amazing poet and fiction writer with a great passion for art and artists. She has a wonderful ability to empathize with and capture the many emotions and nuances of character and personality, which comes through brilliantly in her own writing. Each week she will bring tips to the Underground. Her first series covers the art of character development.
Everything about characters, from how they dress to their names and mannerisms, helps the reader envision the character in their mind. A good character is easily interpreted by the reader through their appearance, actions, and speech. The reader becomes less distracted by out of place elements and is able to easily digest the story you are trying to tell.
Make your characters real to you, and they will feel real to your reader.
That’s not to say your character can not have contradictions. They could be a messy slob, but leave home prim and proper. Your character could act like they don’t have a care in the world, and carry the weight of the world. Many times these contradictions are important as they add depth and insight to a character who might otherwise seem flat. Find a balance that makes sense for you and your story plot.
Writing prompts can help you feel develop a sense of your character. If you know all there is about your character, and how they would react to the world, then you can convey them to reader with ease. There is no formula for how a good character is created. Often times, names are the last thing I decide on, sometimes I have a name before I know what they should look like, and sometimes I build a character to fill a purpose. Their background is just as important as any other aspect of what makes your character who they are, and even if your character doesn’t know their background or purpose, you should.
My method usually starts with the type of character I want to create. For example I started with the need for a soldier type. I gave him the surname Lau while I thought of other aspects of him. Lau is strong, honest, and morally righteous. I made him smart but not worldly, bitter but not cynical. Lau is the type to hold a grudge, but not blinded by revenge. He had to have keen, sharp eyes, fussless hair, and a good build. I then balanced his traits, stubborn to a fault, scarred from battle, dependant, sometimes insensitive or careless, too naive, and too trusting. I struggled through many possible names before settling on Kaiden, a name as nondescript as his ethnicity. Thus, my protagonist was born.
Building your character to your world, or your world to your character is fine. But remember that both things must have pros and cons, a yin and yang. Make them real to you, and they will feel real to your reader.
Who is your character? Reflect on that thought, write it out. Join me next week, as we talk about building character backgrounds.
Cara Rowen is a Los Angeles artist, poet and writer working on her first novel entitled Dust. A hard working member of Soapbox International’s Danger Team, with a strong dedication to the arts and giving back to the community, she has interest in geek culture and humor, fashion, baking, and music. Cara Rowen is known for her fun, bubbly, and sarcastic personality.
Latest posts by Cara Rowen (see all)
- Something Clever Here? – Naming Your Characters - April 4, 2014
- Crafting Personality Part V: Change Will Come - March 28, 2014
- Crafting Personality Part IV: The Clothes Make The Man - March 19, 2014