I'm taking a break from our Kiersey personality trait discussions for a special guest--paranormal author Adrienne Monson--who's going to talk a bit about characters. I loves me some talk about characters. Adrienne's a wife and mother of two children. One child has the angelic role while the other is its exact counterpart. Together, they make quite an interesting team against their mom. When she’s not playing with her kids, she’s writing at the computer, or reading a good book. Besides her passion for reading, she enjoys weight training and Zumba. Check out her debut novel, Dissension, is scheduled for release on February 23.
Thanks for having me as a guest, Donna!
There’s so many different writing tips that could put to good use, so I had a hard time just coming up with one. However, I prevailed over my rambling mind and was able to focus on a singular topic.
Characterization. This is something I’ve personally had to improve on. The first draft for my novel was decent. The plot moved quickly and there was lots of action, but none of my beta readers cared about the characters. Once I got this feedback, I tried to immerse myself in different processes to having solid, three-dimensional characters. The tips I share in this post are ones that helped me the most, but keep in mind that every writer has their own process and you need to utilize what works for you. We writers love trial and error!
I’m very much a plot oriented author, so I still like to write out a rough draft before I get to work on my characters. Once that’s completed, I write a file on each character. It has notes on their physical attributes as well as mannerisms that are unique to them. Then I write up a full bio in those same files. I like to be detail oriented here: dynamics with family when growing up, failed relationships, things they fear, their favorite animal, color, food, etc. I realize most of this information isn’t written into the manuscript, but it really does help me to write the characters more clearly.
The next part of my process is kind of fun. I look up random personality quizzes online and take them from the perspective of a character. I usually just do these for the main characters, and it really does help me to think about things from their point of view.
Okay, so this next part can be a little tedious, but it seriously helps. What I do is read my manuscript from just one character’s point of view. If they’re not in some scenes, then I go ahead and skip them, but if they’re just a small part of other scenes, then I read it from their perspective anyway. As I do this, I’ll make some changes/additions depending on how I think that character would react. Once done, I start from the beginning with a different character’s point of view in mind. This is another process that I specifically use for the main characters, but I’ll also try to pay attention to the other characters while I’m doing a final read-through.
It’s crazy how attached I’ve become to some of my characters, even the evil villains. Because I know them so well, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that they’re not real people. When my sister-in-law told me the name they’d decided on for her baby, I got excited and said, “That’s the name for the main character in my demon novel!” After a hesitation, she forced some enthusiasm, but I could tell she didn’t love the idea that I was comparing her flesh and blood daughter to one of my characters. I do think my niece will have fun with that when she gets older, though.
How immersed in your characters do you get?