Quick and easy techniques for getting to know your characters.
Anyone who writes fiction starts out with a general idea of who their characters are, their personalities, their likes and dislikes, who they’re going to fall in love with, and or who they are going to hate. Some of us begin our story by just writing, and listening to our characters talk to us about themselves. But what if you aren’t this type of writer? What if you have an idea for a story and characters but not very much of an idea about who the characters are? This happens to all of us at one time or another, even the ones who just write and let their characters “talk” to them. So, what do you do if this happens? There are several techniques you can try to help you get to know your characters better.
- Interview your characters. That’s right come up with a list of questions you want to know about the character, and have the character answer them. It sounds a little silly when you think about it, but since our characters come from us, it’s probably not as difficult as it may seem. This technique gives you an opportunity to really think about your characters and what they are like, and where you want to go with them in your story.
- Get together with some friends and or fellow authors, tell them the premise of your story, and what little you know about your characters and have them come up with the interview questions, and then you pretend to be your character and answer them. Sometimes your comrades will think of questions that you wouldn’t, and this will make you really think about your characters and how they fit into the story.
- Think about possible scenarios either from your story, or just from your imagination, then ask yourself what the character would do in that situation. Think about the character’s reactions, and what they might say. This can give you further insight into them.
- Create a story board. Look for and find pictures of people that fit what your characters look like either from pictures you find online, or from magazines. Take a large piece of poster board and create a visual scene from your story or imagination. You can do this for more than one scene, then put it up somewhere close to where you write so you can look at it when you are feeling stumped about where to go next. This technique serves 2 purposes, to have a visual picture of your characters, and to help jog your imagination when you are stumped about where to go with the story.
These are only a few techniques for getting to know your characters, I’m sure you can think of others. Knowing your characters is important because as a writer if you have your characters do something that is contrary to who they are as people, this can disappoint readers. And that is the last thing you want to do.