Monday, 16 March 2015


Monday, 16 March 2015

*This post is for the monthly theme – Carving Characters in Stone*

Characters. The one thing you can’t have a novel without. Sure, you need other stuff like a plot too. But if there aren’t any characters it isn’t going to be a very interesting book. Despite their being of central importance, characters are the weak point of my writing. I can come up with plot and I can write descriptions, I can even write emotion, but I struggle with building a picture of a character’s personality and showing that through their dialogue and actions. This is something I am always working to improve, as it is so essential to a good novel. 

A lot of people use character charts. I should probably do this more. This is where you have things like age, hair colour, personality, nicknames, favourite this and favourite that. There are lots of templates online, some more detailed than others. It can be really useful and make you think about every aspect of your character. 

Character conversations – not sure what the official term for this is, but basically it is where you have a conversation between your characters (and other people’s characters if you have some willing writing buddies), writing in their voice. 

The past is really important. Your character’s past is what makes them the person they are today. This is particularly important for bad characters/villains/antagonists because them being evil just because is weak, they need to have a reason for being the way they are. This applies to all characters as well. The way they have been brought up, the way they have been treated, bad experiences, positive experiences, friendships, relationships, fall outs, break ups, holidays, childhood, school – there are all kinds of things that impact us as we grow, so your characters need to have a past. Their life doesn’t begin at the start of your book (unless the start of the book is them being born, I guess…). 

The character’s motivations and wishes are also vital. They have to have a reason to be doing what they are doing. What motivates their actions and drives them to reach their goal. They have to have a goal of course. This applies to both character-driven and plot-driven stories. 

A lot of people talk about memorability being important. Flat characters get forgotten by readers. The ones that have depth and which the readers connect with are the ones that are remembered and so the novel is also remembered. 

Often though, the best way to get a clear picture of a character is simply to write their story. Often I find as I begin to write the novel their character becomes clearer to me and as I write I learn about them and how they react to situations. Yes, planning is good and necessary, but sometimes just immersing yourself in their world is the best way to unearth their personality.


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