- Alissa T. Hunter
All About the Characters
Updated: Mar 2, 2021
Well hello there.
So, how's it going? Did you have a good day?
Mine was pretty darn good. I've learned to breeze through the busy days and try to ignore the fact that my hair is unbrushed and messy, that the shirt I am wearing very well could be inside out, and I'm probably wearing two different kinds of shoes that do not match my yoga pants...and on top of that, having to run into the school to bring my kid the coat they forgot in the minivan.
Yep, I'm one of those moms at least half of the time, so if you've only seen the side of me that appears to have her poop together, you're one of the lucky ones.
I like to talk to you all like we're all just sitting down enjoying a good cup of coffee (or whatever it is you like to drink) together.
Getting to know what other avid readers enjoy reading in their spare time, and what aspiring authors wish to know about the writing industry, is what I truly look forward to while on this journey I call a writing career. So when I get valuable feedback from a top and loyal reader and aspiring writer, I do not take it lightly and always try my best to answer all questions.
For you, my wonderful, Malicious reader and fellow writer, I'd like to share with you and everyone else who might find this interesting, the process for developing and growing your characters.
First and foremost, you need to make your characters believable. To do this you must inhabit them!
Sorry, didn't mean to yell at you all, I just get really excited about this part because you basically have an excuse to really let your crazy fly.
In order to inhabit your characters, you must think like them, imagine them in their complete form--inside and out. Only you, the writer truly know what each and every one of your characters are feeling, or going through at any precise moment. Only YOU fully comprehend what they've gone through in their lives to make them the way they are, to know what makes them tick. Just like real people, each character will be uniquely different, not just in their looks, but in their personality, how they think, how they feel, how they love, what interests they have, and each will have their own personalized back story--whether or not it is written into your storyline, it's there in the back of every writer's head.
Keeping each character separate can work to your advantage when it comes to adding them in and making them coexist with your other characters. I recommend keeping copious notes on each character as though you were writing a bio for each of them. You can look back and use it as a reference and writing tool throughout your projects.
Keep in mind that every time you are working on character development you are creating a being (or creature or other entity) in their complete form, albeit fiction, you are still becoming the character for all intents and purposes...and you are getting into character each time you work on a scene in a book or screenplay.
Sounds presumptuous, I know, like you as the writer are being an actor or actress warping your brain into someone else temporarily.
That's exactly right!
You are switching gears and becoming someone (or something) else sporadically throughout your story.
The thing is, if you do not compartmentalize each character and focus on sounding like them--thinking like them, all of your characters will blur together and all sound the exact same.
Just think about reading a book where the characters all sound the same...that would be completely boring and a perfectly good waste of pages in my opinion.
Sound about right? Have I lost you to the crazy yet? Just hang in there with me, I promise these methods for writing and developing good characters work!
Readers are SO smart, they catch on to the simplest of errors that we authors (who are human and often make mistakes) have.
Readers can see right through a character that hasn't been completely thought-out and developed; they can detect when a character seems fake or doesn't respond true to their nature...especially if the character has already been fully developed and starts acting OUT of character.
Daunting, isn't it? Are you feeling the pressure yet?
Don't sweat it, just stay true to your characters and continue to have several conversations with yourself as you're working each character out. That's what I would do...
My children constantly catch me mumbling to myself; my mouth moving and imitating words and reactions my characters might be having during some imaginary scene playing out in my head...the wheels are constantly spinning in my brain, guys.
Why would a reader get upset if they notice something different or strange going on with one of your characters?
To avoid getting into the psychology of this question, I'll put it simply: this is because readers are giving up their valuable time to read one of your book babies, and ALL readers invest this time and energy into understanding your characters and even relating to them. Books can be glass doors, windows, or even mirrors into a world that either takes a reader far, far away or brings them closer to life as they know it and they find your story, or a character in your story, relatable. If a reader can reach this place, consider your character development a success.
That's all for now. If you need me you'll have to ring the doorbell as I'm probably preoccupied with having several inquisitive conversations with myself and the many characters floating systematically around my brain.