30 September 2013

Secrets of Character Construction - Novel Writing Workshop 2

So you’ve got a vague idea for a main character (your hero or protagonist), but they need fleshing out. I like to write an interview with each of my characters. First the trivial questions you might ask a new friend – just to get a feel for them: What do they look like? Favourite colour? Age? Heroes? Favourite foods? Foods hates? What do they care most about? How do they move/walk? How do they talk?
Now we are going to dig a bit deeper into their back story: Tell me about your family? Where you from? Your best skills? Happiest childhood memories? The most embarrassing thing ever? Most important thing that ever happened? Who are your friends? When did let someone down? Your saddest memories?

Conflict is the crux of any story and any character so here goes with the painful ugly stuff that will give your character extra dimensions: What really annoys you? What don’t you like about yourself? Your main character flaws? Tell me something really mean you did? What would you want to change about your personality? How could you be a better person? What makes you jealous? When do you ‘see red’ with anger? How would you change the world? What could the world do without?

This exercise will help give your characters depth and give you plenty of leavers to pull to upset their world - if your story starts to drag, pull one of these emotional levers to mix things up a bit (you are the puppet master!)

Now you need to repeat this exercise with all your supporting cast of characters. Tedious, but necessary. I like to have more than one main characters so I can play their moral flaws off against each other.

Let me know how you get on and please share any of your ideas.

Nick