Thursday, July 26, 2012
Today, author A.K. Flynn will be providing her unique take on things as part of the Literary Plus Blog Tour!
Literary+ is a writer based project brought together and lead by Shen Hart. It brings together passionate, quality self-published writers to help each other promote their work, bringing more readers to every member. It was sparked by the simple fact that there are many top quality self-published authors being over-looked because they do not have the time and resources to efficiently and effectively market and promote themselves. With ambition and passion, Literary+ will take its members to the heights they deserve through a tight-knit community of like-minded writers.
Character Creation Conundrum
There two different kinds of writers: plot writers and character writers. For plot writers, you first come up with a story, and then make a main character. For character writers, you come up with the character first, and develop a plot for the character. I am for one a character writer! I need to figure out my characters and then the world I will plop them into; for me this makes sense and works out better for me, but to each their own.
You've heard the old maxim before... “A character can make or break your story.” Okay, okay, so you want to write an interesting character. You've got some plot ideas, you know a little bit about your world, but now you need your characters. And not just any old characters - no, these have got to be the most original, most interesting characters your reader will ever come across.
Ah yes, such is the desire of all writers. And yet, how is it that in classic fantasy we see the same heroes and villains generated over and over again? We've got the rugged wanderer who keeps to himself, the kid who's suffered amnesia and just happens to be royalty, the elf who despises the dwarf (and it's mutual), the reluctant hero who's handsome, brave, and self-sacrificing, the girl who's very beautiful but never gets along with the hero until the end of the story, and the evil overlord type of villain who cackles maniacally whenever things are going his way; this is your typical entourage of characters, and for the most part it works just fine. However, what does it take to create such enthralling character personalities that we grow to love?
Coming up with a character is a long process, and even though the “typical” character read by many seems familiar they usually take on different forms and personality of the writer. No two characters are the same regardless if the plot or character is similar, as the traits of the writer are infused with the main character. When a writer intertwines their personality into a character, the character becomes more personable and will form a rapport with the reader. This rapport is crucial as it will ensure that your audience does not start yawning after chapter one. To help in the process of original character formation, I've gleaned from just about everywhere some tricks and tips to share with you , and so with no further adue here they are.
The first rule of creating fictional characters: Make the readers care. Make them care if your characters... Win or lose. Succeed or fail. Live or die.
Second what kind of personality do you want your character to portray? This is the most important part of your character this is where you will be building rapport with your reader. My current list of personalities are mostly a list of imperfections, as these types of characters are easier for the reader to identify with, and I can create humour out of them in the process. There are many different personality types and it is impossible to go through them all, so here are some of my favourites.
•Sarcastic or cynical. Maybe it's just me, but I'm a sucker for guys who are constantly insulting everyone in a very funny way. Try to decide why the character is sarcastic, though... What makes him moody or bitter in his humour? What happened in his past to make him insult everyone now? Is he afraid of relationships or wary of trust?
•Egocentric. Let the character think she's better than everyone. If other people can do something, she can do it better. She's also much more intelligent than everyone, and, of course, the most beautiful. She's fun to write and fun to read, because you love to hate her.
•Easily fascinated. I just love a character that will stare at balloons forever and delights at a passing butterfly. They're flaky, they're shallow, they're generally useless, but they're so funny to watch. They spout off the most random pieces of knowledge and don't know when to shut up.
•Fierce or hot-tempered. This one is becoming a bit overdone, but I still enjoy a girl who's more likely to knock you out than allow you to rescue her. If you go for the gender-role-reversal thing, a fierce girl is a lot more fun to write than the usual damsel-in-distress. Hot-tempered guys can be great too. He may be easily provoked or loses his temper at the mention of his father. But don't overdo it. How many people got really annoyed by Harry's constant angst in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix?
•Mysterious. You have to be careful with this one, but sometimes it's interesting to have a character who you can't predict and whose thoughts and actions you don't understand. It can get annoying, if the character knows more than the reader. So be careful.
•Hyperactive or flamboyant. A character that never seems to run out of energy or questions can be amusing. Maybe he has an obsession with trying to get the other characters to dance with him. This is a fun one if you like gender-role-reversals. Guys who are easily excitable and like to give big sloppy kisses don't come along too often, and we love to laugh at their antics.
•Melodramatic. The drama queen (or king). This is a character that exaggerates everything and makes tiny events seem like huge catastrophes. She's fun to write and even more fun to read. This is the character that jumps to conclusions and thinks everything is way funnier than it is.
•The bully. Personally, I like the guy that pushes everyone around. He thinks he's cool, but maybe he's secretly really insecure. A good example would be Sirius Black and James Potter from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.
•The nerd. Okay, so it's fun to have a girl who rattles off physics equations in the middle of battle and tries to predict events based on scientific calculations... Especially if she's wrong or no one ever listens to her. Another variation of the nerd is the kid who's rather the swot and always likes to be right.
•Accident prone. She screws things up because she trips over her own feet. She's clumsy. She gets in the way, and she can't be stealthy no matter how hard she tries.
•Forgetful or absent-minded. He's sort of dim, gets teased a lot, and puts his shoes on the wrong feet. Perhaps he's brilliant but can't remember more than two things at once. He can't remember why he's in the kitchen or where he put his glasses.
•Compulsively lies. She rarely tells the truth. Lies are so much more interesting and it's not really lying, it's just a form of acting. She may give her companions wrong directions and after a while they may not trust her very much. Useful if you like the boy-who-cried-wolf type of story, where she doesn't tell the truth until it really matters and then no-one believes her.
•Awkward. He's nervous and a little paranoid and doesn't know what to do with himself when a girl is in the vicinity. He may trip over his own tongue or be fearful of revealing anything about himself.
•A hypochondriac. She's convinced she's dying. A splinter becomes life-threatening, and she cannot travel if she has bruised her knee. Occasionally she crashes into hard surfaces “on accident” and sustains grievous injuries. She always thinks she's ill or coming down with something contagious.
•A kleptomaniac. He compulsively steals things. His companions don't understand why their shoestrings and coins seem to disappear. Most of the time, he doesn't either.
•A pyromaniac. It doesn't get much better than a fire-obsessed girl who likes to experiment. Whoever knew that the hero's boots burn such a strange shade of blue? Or that unicorn hair won't burn unless you douse it in beer?
•Anything that ends in -iac. Noticing a theme, aren't we?
Thirdly what I find helpful in building characters is choosing a name with meaning for them. It helps bring forth the personality traits. If you still not sure of how to figure out their personality then interview your character, ask it questions, build a profile for your main(s) what hobbies they like, what their favourite food is and so on; these aspects of your charter are important so that your readers can relate to your character by building empathy for them.
Adding quirks and originality to your characters can be a challenge, but it is definitely worth the time it takes. So, go forth and write! Spend sleepless nights tapping away at the keyboard, write notes to yourself on your arms in permanent pen, and daydream in class. Do what writers do. Write your characters, listen to their suggestions, and allow them to take on their own life so they may jump from your pages and enthrall the minds of people they touch. Also keep in mind “A procrastinator’s work is never done!”