Creating True to Life Characters
edited: Saturday, March 01, 2008
By angela t pisaturo
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Posted: Saturday, March 01, 2008
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Informative step by step guide to believable fictional characters
CREATING TRUE TO LIFE CHARACTERS
Angela T. Pisaturo
A novel is more than just a story set in a town with characters engaged in dialogue – it is a life portrait of the main character and the world in which they live.
If the main character (antagonist) and its supporting character (protagonist) are presented in a true -to-life fashion, the story will take on a dimension of its own. In my first novel, The Rich American Woman, Amelia DeLuca's Italian immigrant background helped color her view of herself and the world around her. This heritage is the driving force for her decision-making processes.
There are several ways to build characters. Sometimes the plot drives the type of characters you will create. For example, suppose your story centers on a Harvard law student – the characters surrounding the Harvard environment will be professors and students of a certain intellectual focus. They most likely will be introspective and possibly serious. To add to the plot your main character could be different from the norm, thus you have your main character's conflict (conflicts in novels will be discussed in another article).
Character sketches are a good way to develop a main character's persona. Below is a sample of a character sketch that I created for my new novel, Treasures in Clay Vessels.
Nellie Parker – Fifty years of age. An eccentric recluse who owns an antiques shop in Old Port, Maine. She is of slight build, five feet tall, wears Victorian style clothing, has long brown hair with graying tips that she wears in a long braid down her back. She wears lots of foundation makeup to cover her scared face. She lives in a world of biblical artifacts magazines and antiques where she creates where she creates adventures in her imagination. Fears socializing accept what is necessary for business.
Henry J. Lewiston. Fifty-seven years old. A small rotund-built man with salt and pepper hair and sparkling green eyes. All the women in town love him. He is not flirty or extremely attractive, he just knows how to listen and care about people. He is a retired Biblical Archeologist and loves fishing. He seems to like Nellie to spite her deformity.
Once you have your character sketches then you can refer to them to help your character take on flesh and bones. It will also keep you centered on their persona. A character will not deviate from their true self unless it adds something to the plot.
For another example. Nellie always has chamomile tea and blueberry scones for breakfast; it would be out of character for her to change to coffee and bagels unless someone insisted she try it and out of a need to fit in with the local society group she submits to it. This witch of character can drive an interesting twist to your main plot. You can further develop the plot by having Nellie break out in hives the size of quarters in front of these society people thus pushing her further into seclusion.
1.Help develop true to life characters
2.They keep the character true to
3.They can create interesting twists
in the plot and purpose of the story.
The process of character sketching can be overwhelming for the beginner. As a suggestion to help you create larger than life characters, I suggest the following;
1. Keep a notebook of human trait (chews gum, excessively, eats lots of chocolate kisses when stressed, and stutters when nervous.
2.Perhaps a mother, who lovingly bakes cookies for her children, sings the same song as she prepares the batter.
3.A character you have seen on the street – the way they walked or talked.
4.A person's manner of dress that intrigued you.
5.A person's ethnic heritage that you find fascinating.
6.Make a note of any mannerism, style of dress, speech, or ethnic background that you find interesting.
7.File the list in a folder labeled 'character development' when you are ready to write your novel and set the characters in play –refer to it.
One word of caution: Never stereotype or copy a person's exact traits unless you have their permission to do so. When the novel is done, give them the chance to read it before it goes to print.
And HAPPY CHARACTER CREATING!!
Other articles on writing can be found at http://www.inspiredfictionbyapisaturo.com