It’s pretty chilly where I am, today. At least, in my house, it is. So, why not discuss how to warm up to characters? Your characters in specific. Starting a new book is hard enough, dealing with plot and setting, but I know my favorite part, character creating, is one of the hardest things to do. However, making a character isn’t as difficult as writing with them for the first time. By now, in the book series I’m co-writing, my co-author and I are both fully aware of how our characters interact with each other. We know their personalities so well, it feels like when we write, the characters are really the ones in control, and we’re just telling the story of what they did, not making it up as we go. So, how do you get to this point? Well, it’s been nearly a year since we began writing, and I’d say we’ve been truly solid with our characters for only so much time. Maybe a few months? It takes time, for sure. Getting to know the happy-go-lucky character isn’t straightforward, and getting to know a closed off villain and his/her motives is no walk in the park. Here’s how we’ve managed to get comfortable with our characters and their behaviors:
Interaction Practice- One key method my co-author uses with new characters is interaction practice. Previous times, she’s taken new characters and had them interact with one another in mini writing sample, emphasizing their individual traits and practicing how these traits affect the interactions. This is not only good writing practice, but it helps show how characters react when meeting other characters, whether friendly or hostile. These are key things that will be useful later on.
Scenario Practice- My preferred method for getting to know new characters is scenario practice. This throws characters into random situations, good and/or bad, and focusing in on their traits to see how they’d react. It’s basically interaction practice, but with different scenarios instead of other characters (though it may be beneficial at times to include other characters, at least in small amounts). Some scenarios could include a character who’s afraid of heights getting stuck at the top of a Ferris wheel. Simple as that. Taking it to a whole new level is placing that character at the top of a skyscraper and comparing the reactions. Little or big, good or bad, the way a character interacts with his/her environment is just as important as how he/she interacts with other characters.
This drawing is absurdly old (like, a few months ago, absurdly old), however it demonstrates an interaction of sorts between the characters. Monte clearly doesn’t want anything to do with his siblings and their beliefs/responsibilities. Practicing interactions between relatives and main characters is extremely important. It helps carve out who they are. I really do need to redraw this, though…