Writing Tips for Budding Writers

Writing Tips for Budding Writers – Characters

While these writing tips have assisted people I’ve coached, I do not offer any guarantees. I merely hope it might help stoke the fire burning within and get you started on a writing journey.

Lets continue with what I’ll call pre-story writing today. Don’t be disillusioned. You are writing. You are exercising that part of your brain which develops and releases imagination. You are learning some very valuable skills you will use again and again as your journey continues.

You have chosen the genre which interests you the most. You have been reading within that genre with a more critical eye for detail.You may have even checked out some publishing houses and determined where their interests lie. You have a writing space available and the discipline to begin.

It’s time to take your story idea and begin developing it.

I assume alongside your idea you have some thoughts about characters for your story? They may already be three dimensional or still just shadowy figures, but now we need to develop them a little more. Give them names (you can always change these later) and using the same method as you did for your ideas, jot down what they look like, their age, physical characteristics etc. Also where they came from, what they want, what they need. Using a different page for each, note down everything you can think of about each character. You’ll be adding to this later but you need a starting point. If you have difficulty, you might like to imagine you are interviewing them, and noting their ‘responses’ to your questions.

Characters? Yes, well there's a guy, and maybe another guy and probably a woman...

Characters? Yeah, well there’s a guy, and a kidnapper and probably a woman…

You’re striving to give distinguishing qualities, traits, features, properties or nature to your characters, not just their physical appearance.These will be used by the reader to better understand each character in your story. To identify with, see, sympathise with, empathise with, love or hate etc.

The importance of your characters varies depending on your genre. If you are writing romance, characterisation is paramount as it is expected the relationship between the main characters drives the plot (provides the story). In other genres the plot is driven by other forces eg. a murder or mystery. But the portrayal of your characters is still important as it helps a reader see your story.

If you find a photo/picture of how you imagine your character might look, now is the time to attach it to your writings. Keep digging into their heads and see who they really are. But don’t be concerned if your notes are a little sparse right off. You’ll often find these ‘people’ will present you with their own ideas as you progress with your story. I am often developing characteristics right up until the end of a story. That’s one of the joys about writing, you get to decide who these people are, and you can change them any time you like. Half way through a story you can suddenly decide to include a deep dark secret,  a vice or a great redeeming factor like they love animals or small children.

These are your characters, enjoy having fun turning them into recognisable people. The better you know them, the better your words will flow. Writing about a good friend is always easier than writing about a stranger. Make your characters into your best friends.

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