or Writing Compelling Characters is the the brainchild of Elana Johnson, Jen and Alex. Today a bazillion of us are all writing on the same topic. Elana says, "I'm willing to bet one kidney that there will not be two posts exactly the same, just like there are not two bloggers that are exactly the same." For a complete list of participating bloggers hop on over the Elana's blog. Visit as many of them as you can. Hopefully we will all learn something about Writing Compelling Characters.
So here is my humble offering. (Drum roll please.)
SIX TOOLS you can use to build a believable and compelling character plus TWO RULES. (Notice how tools and rules rhyme.)
After all, your character is the heart of your story. I mean, think about it, would you even HAVE a story if you didn't have a character? I for one can't recall EVER reading ANY story that didn't have at least ONE character. So building a character who's believable and compelling is the single most important thing you can do. You can have a great plot, but if you don't have a great character, your story will fall flat. You can use one or all of these tools, whatever floats your boat.
1.) Write a letter from the POV of your character having her introducing herself to you. Let your character explain who she is. Let her get detailed about her personality, her likes and dislikes.
2.) Make up a general questionnaire form (which you can use for any character for any story) that lists specific things, like name, age, height, weight and body type, eye and hair color. This questionnaire can be as detailed as you need/want it to be. An excellent questionnaire can be found in the book Building Believable Characters, by Marck McCutchen. His book also includes a wonderful character thesaurus.
3.) Interview your character. Ask him any kind of question you can think of. Listen to what he has to say and write down his responses. It often helps to have a list of questions handy. I've found when I do this that questions arise out of the answers given which can take me into whole new territory.
4.) Play the "what if" game by thinking about how your character would respond to "what if" situations. What if Drew got slapped by his mother. Would he slap her back? Burst into tears? Get angry and throw something? Stomp out and slam the door? Go hide in his room and become depressed?
5.) If you're like me and don't have kids, go to a public place, like the mall and watch kids. Notice how they are dressed, how they walk and talk, how they interact with each other and/or their families. Try to eavesdrop on conversations. And remember to take notes. Things you glean from these excursions may show up in your characters.
6.) Research personality types. Two sites to check out are 9types.com and this workshop at WriteronLine. There's lots of info and even personality tests you can "give" your character to help you determine just what kind of personality type your character is.
Finally, here are the rules.
Rule 1.) Know your character(s) as well as you (think) you know yourself.
Rule 2.) Have fun.