Getting To The Heart Of Your Story Part 1: Meeting Your Characters

Welcome to the first part of my new four-post series: Getting To The Heart Of Your Story! I’m super excited to do this for the next month!

As writers, we’re constantly growing and learning. I want to share with you what I’ve learned so far in this crazy journey called writing.

So, let’s do this:

(Pictures from Pinterest)

 Say Hello

 (warning: this is where you lose your right to be called ‘rational.’)

Characters: the living, breathing heart and soul of the story (if hearts and souls breathe…?) Without good characters, there’s no story. Every reader will put down the book or cringe all the way through it. Worse yet, they’ll hate your characters. You don’t want that. So in order for your reader to love your characters, you have to love them. How?
Know them. How?
Meet them.
Usually, I picture my protagonist right off the bat. Sometimes it’s just a phrase or a feeling, like: He’s a rebel at heart or She likes the forest. Then this blurry little imaginary character comes skipping into my mind. Who is he? What’s he like? What does he do? (When I say “he” I could mean “she” as well, as a side note)
  
Go meet him.
Close your eyes and strut down the path to him. Introduce yourself. Is he nervous? Is he prideful? Guarded? 
Time to come back to the normal world and do some digging.
   

Personality 

I start with personality, because I think personality highly impacts appearance.
From the start, you should have a vague idea of who this character is going to be: the rebel, the guardian, the adventurer… anything. I start this process by scratching down random little thoughts, like: He can never stay in one place, but his loyalties don’t fluctuate. He can seem….
Then, lo and behold, you have a rough character outline.
Ready to dig deep? Ready to be officially classified as crazy?
Go pretend you are the character.
Go do something as that character: walk the dog, run errands, finish math–anything. Then, take that feeling, and go do a personality quiz, pretending you are the character.
I do 16 Personalities (Myers Briggs) with my characters. Sometimes I’ll already have an idea of who I  want them based off studying the personalities (yes, writers study people), or I’ll go in randomly for the test. Have fun with this. I mean, you get to pretend to be someone else without becoming an actor–which is awesome.
If you’ve never taken Myers Briggs before, I suggest doing it so you can get the feel for how it works (and maybe be shocked how accurate it can be). Read up a bit on your character’s personality: I find it’s a great guideline in the first stages of character development. Who knows? Maybe you’ll have the same personality as your character!
If this idea of pretending to be a different person scares you, it isn’t necessary to take the quiz. I just like to get some base-layer to work with for my character, and find it fascinating to look at things from other peoples’ points of view.

(and if you were wondering, I’m the one who can say something intelligent one moment and walk into a wall the next, and is quite proud of her ability to “extrovert”) 

Appearance

This section is brief, as your character’s appearance is relatively easy to decide. Look at some actors if you need something to spark your imagination. I find Pinterest to be extremely helpful in this aspect of character creation.
You’re stumped and need to mess around with some different appearances? Try an Avatar creator (silly, right?) This is the one I use. If you can do it without cracking up and moving a nose up to an eye, great (I’ve done that). It’s just so you can get some idea of how your character looks. (I’d put one of mine on here, but I think I’d just die of embarrassment XD)
Erik Trent is a talented self-taught photographer and creative director based out of Dallas, who loves to design, explore & travel. β€œI spend most of my free time traveling and immersing myself …:
(Pictures from Pinterest)

    Dig Deeper

That character feeling pretty real so far? Good. Characters should be like real people to writers (they are for me, anyway). And, like real people, characters aren’t perfect; they’re gray. No perfect good or perfect evil. Give them flaws. Give them problems. I cannot begin to stress how important this is, but will so in next week’s post.
You have lots of layers to you, right? Hopes. Dreams. Fears. Problems. Guess what? So does your character! You just have to unveil them. This list I’ve found to be OUTSTANDING at doing that.
But wow, that’s a ton of questions. And it is, but if this is your protagonist or antagonist, you’re going to want to take some time to do this. You should know more than you share in your novel. So….
Say hello to Kara.

(Pictures from Pinterest)

   I’d do an interview with her, but… let’s just say “spoilers.” Anyway, you might have seen her pinned up on Pinterest (sounds disturbing). She’s my wonderful protagonist who I’ve been working with for the past three years. Her character has been H-A-R-D. It’s gone up and down and I could never decide….

Even after three years?
If that’s what you’re thinking, yes, even after three years, I’m still learning more about my hero. That’s how deep your main character should be. Because if you don’t know him, how will the reader?
You might be staring at your huge cast and groaning right now. So, I’m going to bring in another of my characters, one who is super excited to be here.

Meet Miriam… minus that jacket that’s really out of the time period for the planet she’s on.
(I’m in italics, she’s in bold)

Laneya Grace:
(Pictures from Pinterest)

 

 Hi, Miriam!
Hello! Oooh! Who are all these people? Are they –
Shh! This is serious!
*shuts mouth and nods* Okay. I’ll be quiet now.
Anyway… Miriam is one of my minor characters
*jumps up* I’m – 
A minor character, but still important. I brought her here to talk about her character creation. Miriam *lowers voice* don’t… you know what.
*beams* Alright, I wasn’t in the original version of the story, but Audrey recently added me back in. I guess you could say I’m in a bunch of scenes, which is awesome! There’s this one when – 
Miriam!
I’m not supposed to say, but it’s so great! Anyway, I’m pretty much present through a lot of the story, but Audrey never did a profile on me.
She means that list of questions.
Yeah. She doesn’t not know me, but I didn’t have to sit through one of her interviews. Anguis did one though, and he said — 
He lied. I don’t use force.
*grins* Okay. But maybe one day I’ll get to do one. Audrey doesn’t always do them with her main characters though. I heard she’s adding a girl named Skye to her sequel, and Skye doesn’t have a profile yet. She’s a – 
Thank you very much, Miriam. You can go back to…. *waves hand* You know what I mean.
*squeezes the life out me* Alright! This was so fun, Audrey! I – 
*clears throat* She can be that way. But, back to the main point, you don’t always have to interview every character. The more you know about your character, the better!
(I think I have succeeded in showcasing every writer’s craziness in this post)
Check back next week for part 2: Embodying Your Characters. Sound freaky? We’re not even halfway, yet πŸ˜‰
<3 
– Audrey Caylin
Talk to me! How do you “meet” your characters? Have you used any of these methods?
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No Comments

  • Reply
    AmyNikita
    January 14, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Awesome post Audrey! Those are great tips you shared, and things I've found so helpful myself πŸ™‚
    I love creating my characters – it's my favourite part of the writing process. It's like meeting new friends, I just love it! <3

    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words

  • Reply
    Savannah Grace
    January 14, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    LOVED this post, Audrey! You have such a fun way of writing things – and I adore all the tips and tricks you shared with us!

    I normally find out more about my characters by writing little scenes that might not be in the story itself, but that help me realize who the character is. It's really fun :D. I LOVE what you said about pretending to be your character, or going to meet them – I'll definitely be trying those sometimes soon ;).

    Thanks again for this awesome post! <3

    ~ Savannah
    scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    Marrok MacIntyre
    January 14, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Very cool! I love the ideas, I meet my characters in a different way (I may or may not do a post about it, haven't decided yet). But that was a very cool post and something I'll add to my own character building πŸ™‚ Great job

  • Reply
    Jonathan
    January 14, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    This was a great post, Audrey.
    I'll have to add in personality tests when I create my characters.
    Also, I tagged you for the 2016 Bookish Recap Tag, if you want to do it.

  • Reply
    Audrey Caylin
    January 15, 2017 at 3:45 am

    Yes, characters are my favorite! Whenever I create a new one, I'm so interested to learn more about him/her–just like I would be with a real person XD

    Thank you so much, Amy!

    <3

  • Reply
    Audrey Caylin
    January 15, 2017 at 3:49 am

    THANK YOU, Savannah! πŸ˜€ I cracked up several times while writing it. πŸ˜‰

    Oooh! I love that! I can just imagine one of my sarcastic characters stuck in traffic…. I'll be trying that one a lot!
    I have to give credit to my mom for that one; when I used to dance, she would suggest I be the character of whatever role I got during the day. I thought it would be cool to try with characters!

    You're welcome πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Audrey Caylin
    January 15, 2017 at 3:50 am

    Thank you, Marrok! That would be a really cool post (if you can fit in your post schedule, of course. I just made mine and now I'm obsessed with keeping it. lol)

    Glad it helps πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Audrey Caylin
    January 15, 2017 at 3:53 am

    Thank you, Jonahtan πŸ™‚

    Oh my gosh, the personality test can be so fun! It's like getting a mold for your character so you don't have to decide EVERY little detail from the start πŸ˜› You should definitely check it out!

    Oh, that looks awesome, and thank you so much for tagging me! I think I over-committed this week though, so I'm sorry that I can't do it πŸ™ Thanks for tagging me though and I'd definitely be open to doing it another time πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Autumn Raelin
    January 16, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    OOOH I REALLY LOVED THIS POST, AUDREY!

    And this is random, but can I just say you are a really good blogger? Like, you post really consistently and your posts are always so well thought out and written. I was just reading this post and I thought of that. It seems like you put a lot of effort into your posts and it is so worth it!

    ANYWAY WOW THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. I really want to learn my characters better, because I do have a basic idea of who they are, but I know that I definitely need to learn them better. I'm definitely going to start using some of these tips. I loved this post <3

  • Reply
    Audrey Caylin
    January 17, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    That is so sweet, Autumn! THANK YOU THAT JUST MADE MY DAY! You = awesome. Thank you thank you! <3

    Yes! When I first heard about some of these things, I stopped and wondered how well I knew my characters, and realized I barely knew them. Character creation gets a million times more fun and interesting with these! I'm glad this post helped πŸ˜€

    <3

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