Hello everybody! Today I’m going to talk about creating characters or heroes for a novel.
WARNING: MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS FOR MY NOVEL SERIES: #1, CLOUD.
To start off, let me tell you that I am a complete and utter panster. Yes, I usually have a basic sketch of my novel up in my head, but I RARELY plot or organize….but I do work on my characters A LOT. Characters are the ‘life’ of a novel, they are what the entire work centers around. So creating a good, relatable character is not very easy sometimes.
1. Who is your character? What is his role in the story?
A character must have use in a story. For example, what is the point of having a rich guy if he does nothing but sleep? Or having a superhero, if the novel is about a regular schoolgirl learning gymnastics?
To make a character ‘fit’ into a story, he/she must have worth. Take our stingy rich guy, for instance. He doesn’t sound like an interesting guy right now, but what if he was on a plane that was hijacked? Suddenly he’s in great danger, because he’s rich. Or, what if he has a soft side for cats, and an animal shelter is failing, so he takes on the responsibility of caring for 30 cats alone? Suddenly you have an interesting character.
Every character must have some sort of name. Now, most of you are probably thinking, ‘what on earth do names have to do with creating a dynamic character?’
Well, first off, let’s say we’re going to write about a honest farm boy who wants to fight in the civil war for the union side.
Would you name him Richard? No, obviously not. Richard is to classy, and high up.
How about Branden? No, that name doesn’t fir the era.
You see, a character must fit his name. A colonial girl would not be named Adriana, just as a villain would usually not be name Bob.
A character’s name should usually fit his character. Outgoing people wouldn’t usually be named Eustace, and a shy person wouldn’t be named Crystal.
Every character has their own personality. Here’s an example of a good way to ‘find’ your character’s personality:
An Interview! Here’s a sample of one I did with Payton Fleming, the MC of my novel I’m writing:
S: So, who are you?
P: I’m Payton Fleming, and I’m a freshman.
S: How about your fav. color?
P: Fuchsia obviously! It’s in.
S: O…kay. I did not know that.
P: *gasps in astonishment at my foolishness* How could you not know that?
S: I don’t wear pink……anyways, what are your hobbies?
P: Oh, well, I scrapbook, play basketball, volleyball, and softball…..oh, and I love movies….
S: What about horses?
P: What? *looks surprised*
S: I said, do you like horses?
P: Well, uh, no. They’re just big hair balls, shedding all over the place!
S: O….kay. *glances over shoulder and says ‘this might be harder than I thought’*
So, as you probably noticed, Payton is sort of sassy, and likes stylish clothes. She right now, is what you would call a ‘follower’.
A follower is a person that ‘follows’ fads, peoples actions, etc., just because they want to ‘belong’.
A person that wants to belong, is usually insecure and actually shy, but never shows it by putting up a tough front.
You see? By doing that little interview, we were able to find out that Payton is shy, sassy, sarcastic, socially insecure, and always wanting friends.
A person that’s always wanting friends, like Payton, indicates that she doesn’t have many or any close friends in New York.
Try this with your own characters, and you’d be surprised at what you find out.
4. What is the character backing, or reason for acting that way?
As we found out when we interviewed Payton, she is socially insecure. Why so?
Well, let’s look at her basic facts.
Payton’s parents were divorced after she had a terrible riding accident, and she moved to New York City with her mother, Trish.
In New York, she tried to ride again, but was always to scared.
So, Payton could be socially insecure because her parents are split up, causing her to be unsure of both of them, especially her father, because he didn’t come to visit very often.
Plus, after trying to ride and failing, she could have decided she was just to scared to be good at anything, and gave up.
Now, that’s Payton’s reason for being socially insecure. But what about other characters?
Batman, for example, hates crime because his parents were killed by a criminal.
Prince Caspian, in the chronicles of Narnia, lets his evil uncle Miraz live even though he killed his father, because his father would have let him go.
Luke Skywalker, in Star Wars Episode 6, wouldn’t kill Darth Vader, even thought Vader was trying to kill him and his friends, because Vader was his father and had been a noble Jedi before he turned to the dark side, and Luke saw that the same thing would happen to him if he followed the emperor’s wishes and killed Vader.
Every Character must have a weakness or two. No character is relatable or interesting unless he has a weakness.
For example, Superman wouldn’t be very interesting if cryptonite didn’t exist, because no one could defeat him then. He would never be challenged, and therefore would be dull.
A weakness doesn’t have to be something as drastic as that, it could be a simple thing like being afraid of heights.
For example, what if your character was afraid of heights, but didn’t mind being in planes. Suddenly, the plane’s engines fail, and everyone must parachute out. Your character, who is deathly afraid of climbing tree, must parachute out of a plane 1,000 feet above the ground!
These little things make a story much more interesting than it would be without them.
Usually, in a book or movie, at the end, the MC is different that he/she was in the beginning. For example, in my novel, Payton Fleming is insecure, sarcastic, and shy in the beginning, but in the end, the is (hopefully!) going to be secure, kind, and brave. Or at least brave in danger.
Try to develop your characters past their weakness’s, and let them try to overcome these weakness’s. That is what makes a story interesting.
So! I hope that helped some of you, or at least gave you some ideas on writing, ’cause it took me a half hour to
writetype(i type SUPER slow….)!
Thanks for readin’,