So, I haven’t posted in a…while, but you know what? I’m astounded at how much procrastination I have achieved. My room’s immaculate, I have 55k words in a rough draft, and a government idea for another project, and one inch of a sock done on my loom! (okay, granted, the sock isn’t really that spectacular. It’s actually kind of sad)
Anyway, since I’ve had time over the holidays to look at my writing, I’ve realised I’m in desperate need of some character reconstruction. Of all my strengths and weaknesses in writing, characters are getting the short end of the stick. Actually, they don’t really get a stick at all. They just get a fancy name handpicked from my Nameberry lists and one sad thing about their background.
Jon Randal, his dog died. PERFECT! a character bio!
Not so much.
With my new project, I’ve decided I’m going to make some changes. As a sketcher, I know that the best way to be proud about your drawing and really dive deep into it is to pick your biggest weakness and stab it out over and over with your one, precious 4H pencil that you haven’t lost yet until you have a masterpiece you’re willing to hang in the living room. So, I’ve decided to step into character building head-on by building a character alone. I’m not going to fall into the glorious temptation of creating an overarching-plot-twisty-world-magicy-soupy-lumpy-thingy, instead, I’m tackling Master Arlo Lee Albian as if I were meeting a person. Here are many different ways that I’m discovering Arlo:
First Glance Sum Up:
Here is where you act as if you’re an interviewer for a fashion magazine, or maybe just a really creepy person, or an artist (they all fall into the same category). When you first see a person, your brain automatically makes a sum-up and assumptions about the person. You’ll want to find out what about the character is the first thing people will notice. Do they wear a bright hat? Have dark freckles across their nose? Is their hair crazy or very plain? All of these are noticeable as soon as you see someone.
Personally, when I first see someone I notice what culture their background is from, mostly because I love culture. This can help me pick their personality/quirks better. Example, I’m Canadian French, so I have many French attributes to my traditions and quirks. Such as my family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve night, and we use some sayings such as sil vous plait and excusez-moi. Someone can know someone without having to know their ethnicity, but sometimes it adds to their character and look ( a first generation Filipino person will probably be short, love to share their food (which is usually quite interesting) and have dark hair/skin. Whereas a second generation will most likely be taller, although they might inherit some of their parent’s traditions and looks, at least from what I have personally seen here in Canada)
Ethnicity will also show their hair colour, skin colour, and probably shape of features (a person with Jewish blood might have a larger nose since it’s very common. See Einstien 😛 )
STYLE AND POSTURE
Someone’s style is always an indicator of what they’re like. So maybe you’ll see those people with the contradicting style and personality, but usually, it still tells you something about how they act. Maybe they have a punk style, so they’re rough around the edges, or maybe they still have that punk style and they’re really shy and nervous and don’t like doing anything remotely dangerous, but they really want to be like their older sibling. Posture also helps with finding out about a person. You might see a person standing with head tilted loosely, arms dangling or crossed, and legs splayed a bit…they’re probably bored and hard to excite. Or there might be someone with wide eyes, tight smile and broad shoulders, and you could get the idea they’re a bit high strung, but not afraid. Of course, someone with head tilted away from the general crowd and sort of folding in on themselves would be a shy person, or introvert (or they’re a teen author who’s deep in thought of how exactly to rip out their reader’s souls. Never know)
This one’s simple. I’ve been searching high and low for as many personal questionnaires as I can find. Act as if you’re going out to coffee with your character and you’re gonna pester them with 200 questions or more. This may seem daunting, but make sure many of those questions are silly, or just little things you might know about a friend. Do they like cherry or vanilla ice cream? Are they a light sleeper or would even the thunder of the Lord fail to wake them? Even if you don’t think you’ll have your character ever eat ice cream (or maybe ice cream isn’t invented yet) still answer the question. Answer each question in the voice of your character.
THEY’RE YOUR FRIEND. TREAT THEM AS SUCH
Don’t be afraid to pester them with the weirdest, most personal of questions. At this point, they’re your child. A child who cannot turn into a twisted human and ruin the world if you creep them out a bit too much. Don’t be shy. But that’s not all ‘treating them as friends’ means. Try talking about them to your other friends as if this person were real (make sure they know that you are actually talking about a fictional person though. You might not want to start telling the story of how Jason save Julia from a raging Eucalyptus plant. Trust me, you might notice your friends start backing away slowly. It’s not your imagination, they’re scared of you. ~although that might not be new~
ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER
A good way to build a personality is to realise that your own personality comes from other people too. Your friends help build the person you are, so maybe you should give credit of a few of their quirks to other people. These people could be the simplest of lifeforms, just an abstract idea with a name or they could be your other in-depth character project.
This. This is awesome. Role-playing is maybe the best way to get to know your character. You can squish down into the depths of your character creating mind where your newest little baby is brewing and start drawing straight from their newly formed mind. Role-playing with other people throws scenarios at your that you haven’t thought of before and shows you just how your character would react to them. Not only that but when you’re doing it through text or messaging you have the full conversation recorded and written, able to be used as a constant resource for the child that is your character. Now the only downside is you can’t cosplay. Unfortunately, no one knows about an unwritten character and even more, unfortunately, no one’s really impressed. Believe me, I’ve tried.
Hopefully, with all of this research, a character will immerge from this…Arlo, you’d better not disappoint, sir.
Also, here are two of the questionnaires I’ll be using to find Arlo, collected by the almighty Pinterest:
I apologize if there are any inappropriate questions on these lists, but they’ve been really in depth, and I love the progression in the 200 questions list.
Until next time I want to procrastinate on actual authoring,
(it’s -21C feeling like -34C out there. my typing fingers are gone.)Log in or Register to save this content for later.