Are Your Characters Fleshy?
This may come as a shocker, but a lot of beginning writers don’t know how to make good characters. And I’m sure some tenured authors make the same mistake occasionally. It’s not enough to say, “Hey, Mr. Character, you have dark hair and blue eyes. Now start talking.” Dialogue is one aspect of a character. So is appearance. But, what is inside is what counts. What is inside of a character is what makes us keep reading.
Take the time to fill out the finer details of a character. For example, what do they like to eat for breakfast? Maybe they don’t eat breakfast. Some people don’t. What is their religious affiliation? Where did they go to school? What kind of home life did that person have? Notice I said “person”.
People are complicated. We are complicated. If we were all pretty typical, would life be any fun? Probably not. Not everyone is easy to get along with, but sometimes getting into the heart of a person and learning more about them is rewarding. So do the same with your characters.
Most likely, if you’re any kind of fiction writer, you will have a plan for your story or book. You’ll have the plot mapped out. That is great! But, have you mapped out your character? Characters are not just plastic dolls. They should be so real you can practically touch them. Do you sketch? Sketch them if you have to. But, make notes of who that character is. What really makes them tick? Most importantly, what does he want out of life? And how does he plan to get it? What “secrets” do you know about your character that the reader may or may not know on the page? Trust me. All of these things will help you understand your character better.
In the writing of the sequel to my current release, I was arrogant. Okay, not arrogant. I was under the impression that I knew everything I could about the hero and heroine because I wrote a bunch of scenes. But, then, I thought, “Hold on. Why does so-and-so act that way? What makes her who she is?” So, I unearthed this worksheet full of character questions to help me identity not only the aspects of the heroine I already knew, but the stuff that I hadn’t thought of as well. Well, did that end up helping? Did it “flesh” her out? You bet. I finally knew why she had carried out certain actions. She made sense to me as a character. I wouldn’t have known she wasn’t three dimensional unless I had done that.
I also did the same for the hero, and I found out some interesting quirks. I also discovered he was completely human, not otherworldly like we want heroes to be. I think that makes a good character.
So, do what you can to find out everything you can about your characters. Make them flesh and bone, not plastic. Make them as real as possible with eccentricities and flaws and “secrets”, just like normal people. Make them…well, human. As human as you possibly can. You will look at that finished product and believe in it so much more.
About the Author
Marie Lavender’s most recent release is Upon Your Return.
She lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands.
At the tender age of nine, she began writing stories. Her imagination fueled a lot of her early child’s play. Even growing up, she entered writing contests and received a certificate for achieving the second round in one. She majored in Creative Writing in college because that was all she ever wanted – to be a writer. While there, she published two works in a university publication, and was a copy editor on the staff of an online student journal. After graduating from college, she sought out her dream to publish a book.
Since then, Marie has published sixteen books. Marie Lavender’s real love is writing romances, but she has also written mysteries, literary fiction and dabbled a little in paranormal stories. Most of her works have a romantic element involved in them. Upon Your Return is her first historical romance novel. Feel free to visit her website at http://marielavender.webs.com/ for further information about her books and her life. Marie is also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
A list of her books and pen names includes:
Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return
Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom
Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life
Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things