This week: Writing great characters
I’m right in the sticky depths of book two of the Spider trilogy. 68k words in and I am flagging. But fear not! The characters, you see, to me, to my mind – it is all about the characters. And when you get them right, the whole book comes alive and suddenly, tapping on that computer becomes a tad easier.
So here you go. Top five tips for writing great characters:
1. Know ’em. By creating a full biography. I mean FULL. Just like you know your best mate or your spouse, you need to now your characters. Every detail, every nook and cranny. This makes them rounded, real – and easer to write. No bio = no character.
2. Imagine what they’d look like. I have pictures ripped from magazines & printed from websites of faces I imagine my characters would look like. This works especially well for the protagonist.
3. Empathy. You need to have an identification with your characters, not just from you, but, of course, ultimately, from the reader, too. For this you need to create empathy. Empathy is recognising a tad of yourself in the character. Once we can do that, the writing – and reading – flows.
4. Sympathy. This means ensuring that, in some way, your protagonist is human. We have to like what we see in at least a small amount, even if you don’t like other bits of the character. Amy from Gone Girl? She is a total psycho, but I like her ‘don’t care what you think’ attitude. See?
5. Be authentic. The reader is real and, therefore, so must be your character. Reader’s aren’t daft – heck, you are not daft. So why fudge a character or try to pretend on the page that this person is a certain way when that cannot actually be the case? Just tell it as it (really) is and you’re on to a winner.
Any top tips on writing great characters? Great! Share them with the group!