I don’t know about you, but when I meet someone new I always take mental notes on their mannerisms and what they say. First impressions are everything.
When a reader meets a character for the first time, how do you want them to feel about the character?
Should the reader love your character? Maybe they’re supposed to hate the character. Or maybe the character comes off sweet at first, but the reader slowly learns to dislike the character and vice versa.
There are many traits you can use to describe the personality and mannerisms of your characters.
–General traits (ambitious, dull, funny, witty, vain, etc.)
–Good/bad habits (social butterfly/anti-social, etc.)
–Hobbies (dancing, writing, loves playing games, etc.)
What kind of emotion does your character typically show? Is he or she cheery in the most dire situations or maybe they’re sad all the time.
What about their knowledge? Do they love learning? Have multiple degrees in various subjects? Do they love palm-reading or anything that has to do with animals?
Do they have any obsessions or quirks? Maybe they collect rocks or have random impulses.
How would any of those show in the first meeting of a new character?
How would your other characters react to meeting this person?
Of course, you can write away and see how the characters turn out on their own, but I always like to think it’s good to have at least three traits of every character figured out–two good, one bad.
These traits may change over time, but that just means your character is becoming more into their own.
Appearance isn’t everything, but when it comes to describing the characters in your novel, physical looks are important.
You want your reader to see the characters they’re reading about.
Don’t just say a character is pretty because they’re the main character or something along those lines. How are they pretty? Do other characters in the story think he or she is pretty? If so, why? If not, why?
Let your reader have an opinion on this as well. Maybe your reader will agree or disagree whether your protagonist is pretty or not.
There are many different physical characteristics to think about when creating your characters. Do you have to spend a few paragraphs right in a row to describe your character? No. Describe them over time.
Some physical features aren’t even important, but it doesn’t hurt to throw them in; especially in the first few drafts of your novel to help you, the writer, get familiar with the characters.
Physical characteristics can include:
–Body type (bony, chubby, petite, solid, height, weight, etc.)
–Facial features (clean-shaven, wrinkled, double chin, droopy eyes, etc.)
–Skin and complexion (birthmarks, scars, pale, tattoos, etc.)
–Hair (hair’s color, length, cut, thick/thin, etc.)
–Clothing and accessories (kinds of clothes they wear, colors, kinds of accessories such as hats, jewelry, etc.)
A great way to describe someone is to describe yourself first. It’ll give you ideas of what to look for when talking about the physical traits of your characters.
Look at yourself in a mirror and describe your body, you face, and everything you can think of.
In my creative writing class at college, I was assigned an exercise called the Body Portrait. You zoom in on a spot of your body and tell its story. I chose to write about the small scar under my chin.
It’s a great way to look more in depth at yourself and your characters.
I know some people like to allow their characters to develop naturally through the course of the story. Others don’t know anything about their characters until they write them down. Then there are some who plan and plan and plan their characters out.
For me, it all depends on the novel.
For my George Florence series I had personalities in mind for my characters. Then I wrote them and they turned out completely different.
For my Take Over novel I had their personalities planned and so far they’re sticking to them.
For my Diary of a Lover novel, I let the characters run the show.
So you never really know what is going to happen whether you plan or not.
However, there are definitely a few things you should know about your character before writing them:
1. First and last name
4. Career and/or Education
As long as you know those four key points (and I guess number four could be optional) I think your character can wing it for the novel.
Then again, it can be fun to plan. If you are a planner for your characters then I would suggest this:
You don’t have to write a novel to be considered a “writer.”
Movies and TV shows.
No, it’s not reading. But someone had to write the words for the actors to say. You’re watching the characters.
Most video games tell a story. There’s always bad guys and conflict. There’s usually a happy ending. You are the character.
Blogs and social media.
Some people post stories and chapters on their blogs, yes. But most post articles, essays, information, or funny ramblings. Some people tell stories in just 140 characters or less on their Twitter and it’s amazing.
So just because you don’t have a novel published or finished doesn’t mean you’re not a writer. We’re all writers.
I get asked that question frequently from friends, other bloggers, and more. I never have a specific answer for them because my ideas come from everywhere and from everything.
I tell them, as long as you keep your eyes and mind open, you can find ideas all around you.
1. Movies and TV shows.
Most people watch TV in their down time–after work, after dinner, right before bed. Movies and TV shows tell stories. They have a plot, they have characters. Movies can be inspiring and spark new ideas. For me, I always get an itch to write something great whenever I watch Harry Potter.
2. Read a book.
This is pretty straight forward. Whenever I read a great book, I’m always motivating to come up with an idea that’s just as great.
When you go out for a walk, go to the grocery store, or just stand in line at the coffee shop, watch the people around you. Observe how they look and act. You can probably come up with a story to fit those people. Just be sure not to judge a book by its cover too much.
4. Real life.
Did something hysterical happen to you and your friends that would only happen in a sitcom? Maybe something terrible happened that you’re still trying to get over. Write about it. Come up with a new ending. Twist and turn the events and make it your own.
5. Create new characters.
Base characters off of yourself, members of your family, some of your friends. Use real life people as guidelines to create a new character. Then see what kind of situations that character can handle in a story.
6. Hopes and dreams.
Do you want to have superpowers and save the world? Maybe you want to travel the world, but don’t have the money. Maybe you wish there were more hours in the day. Create stories based on what you want. We can’t extend the days longer than 24-hours, but in a fictional world one day might be 48-hours long. Think of all the possibilities if each day equaled two.
There are ideas all around us. You just need to get creative and let your imagination run wild with it.
If you’re like me, you have many novel ideas swirling around in your head. These ideas are written in various Word documents on the computer saved to your flash drive, Dropbox, Google, e-mail, desktop, etc. They’re written in so many different notebooks that it’s hard to keep track. Or you just have loose papers all over the place with notes scribbled on them.
To start 2016 off right, I want to organize everything I have when it comes to my writing.
My reasons for doing this?
1. To have a neater work space. I have four areas where I have notebooks and file folders of novels and notes. That’s not including what’s on my computer. This way, I’ll know where everything is.
2. To prioritize my writing. I have to go through all the ideas I have and check off which ones I like best. Some novels I’ll write eventually, others I may never get to. Some will be published, some will be written but never see the light of day.
With that being said, here are five ways to organize your writing.
1. File Folders
I have a filing cabinet in the corner of my office filled with too many file folders to count. Each folder is its own novel and includes all the information on the novel such as summary, plot notes, lists of characters, etc.
It also includes my progress on the novel such as the date when I started it and date I finished it. Start edit, end edit dates, as well as page count, word count, chapter count, etc.
2. Accordion Folders
Most accordion folders have seven pockets or 13. I always buy the 13-pocket ones. When a novel is completed, I print it out and put it in the accordion folder because 300 or so pages of paper is just too thick to put in a file folder.
This is great as you edit because you can put each draft in a different pocket. Plus, the file folders fit perfectly in the pockets. So you can have all the information for one novel in one place.
3. Utilize Shelf Space
I have built-in shelves to the walls in my office. I have two next to my desk where I put notebooks. There are two more shelves in the closet where I keep even more notebooks.
I also have bins filled with notebooks. I have no idea where all these notebooks came from, but they’ll all get used up eventually I’m sure.
4. Keep Lists
I have a list of all my novel ideas. Series are color-coded and the list is broken up into genre categories. It’s a great way to keep all your ideas together. I also try to remember to write small summaries for each idea, too. I can’t tell you how many ideas I’ve had that turned out just to be a cool title because I couldn’t remember the idea.
5. Keep Your Info Together
I have two eight-pocket folders. I keep various information in each pocket such as characters and names, lists of agents, publishers, and self-publishers, rejections, awards, etc. It’s great to have many resources available right at your fingertips.