Your characters have only the life you give them. They exist within your head, they do as they’re told and, at the end of the story, they vanish; sometimes forever. I’ve written a lot of fragments, not stories but just ‘character workouts’. Sometimes they’re for characters I want to place within a story, sometimes they just knock on the door of my imagination and say ‘Hey -
Harry is a middle-
Jane is a twenty-
Write a scene to bring them to life, no more than 500 words. Try different scenarios -
Have you ever heard the opinion that John Wayne never played anyone but John Wayne? It’s not true, of course, but Wayne was such a character in his own right that people identified with him as the character he played, such was his charisma. In writing, that’s a thing to be wary of. Your characters must stay true to type and they must not be you dressed in other clothes.
For example: you’re writing a crime story. The villain of the piece is a violent bank robber. He’ll do things you would never dream of doing (and I’m not just talking about robbing banks) or saying. Yet you would be surprised by the number of writers who steer clear of actions or words that their characters would do or say, simply because ‘they don’t like it’ or feel that people ‘aren’t really that bad.’ Don’t believe me? It’s true. Most of the time it’s not a conscious thing. If you find yourself in this trap, then is the time to write a character fact sheet as mentioned above. You can the refer to it and say ‘Hey! She wouldn’t (or would!) do a thing like that!’ So just remember -
Characters have their own way of doing things -
Too, fiction is not like real life in that fictional characters never do things outside their character profile. Whilst you, even though being a sober and reflective sort, may well take it into your head one day to run naked through the park, take up skysurfing or climb El Capitan, your sober, reflective character would never, ever do this. Your reader simply wouldn’t accept it. Fictional characters are dependable. They don’t have whims, caprices or fancies. They may be axe murderers, astronauts or detectives but they stay in character. Let them run loose and you’ll lose credibility, the plot -
If you would like to see a typical character fact sheet that you can copy or print off and use as you need, please click here.
Next we’ll take a look at plotting your story, which is a different thing to planning it. Just before you go, I want to ask you something. How much do you read? If you’re like me (a real bookworm) you may find that an e-
Site copyright©2016 steve dempster all rights reserved
|What goes where|