How to Dissect Your Characters for Stunning Stories: 101

Hey Future Authors! What’s Up?

For me, I finally wrapped up my first book! Right now, I’m shooting it out to agents. Fingers crossed!

Characterization 101

For November, I’m working on a characterization series. Something that really impeded me while writing my novel was not understanding or knowing my characters well enough. I wasn’t my character’s creepy stalker after all.

Now what I am about to introduce is something that I hope helps you think critically about your characters. As I stated before, a character is a person, and you want to make them as authentic as possible. But there are a lot of character sheets out there, and some of them are incredibly long. As I stated in my previous post, I use them as a guideline, but what I have developed for my characters comes from meditation on the essence of “character.”

I’m looking to write four posts on what I have decided to be the best things to know about your character, and it isn’t a 100 question survey. 

I have eight concepts for you, as a writer, to flesh out on your own. It will give you the foundation for your character and their arc through your story.

Please leave your opinions in the comments. I look forward to reading them.

Now because I have devoted a lot of words to this introduction, I am going to recommend you start with these EASY concepts first in developing your characters:

Here’s the Lowdown

  1. On the Outside: Simply create an image of your character. If you can draw, go for it! What do they wear? What is their race? Are their clothes new or old? Do they have any scars, tattoos, piercings, any distinguishable qualities that set them apart? Are they tall, short, round, or skinny? These questions are somewhat easy to answer. Most of us have an idea of what our characters look like, but most of us don’t think about how these features affect our character’s perception of themself.
  2. On the Inside: Most people are insecure about something. Usually, it is physical something that we can either control or can’t control. Maybe it was something in their past that made them ashamed or proud. We’ll talk about history in another post. Is your character confident? Do they see themselves as better than everyone else or the worst person on earth? Maybe they don’t think about their place in the world and are just rash Anime protagonists. How the character views themselves determines what type of actions they will take throughout your story. Some characters will remain in the background, and your main character must be front and center and be interesting enough to hold a reader’s attention. And because your main character is front and center, they will be more susceptible to the ire and ridicule of other characters.
  3. What’s the Buzz?: Ire and ridicule may not be how other characters react to your MC, but knowing how others view them will help establish the world and struggles your MC, and other characters deal with in the story. How does your main antagonist feel about your characters, and why? If there is hate, there has to be a reason, even if the cause is flimsy. Maybe your other characters find your MC annoying or stupid. What makes them see the MC like that? Why have they arrived at the conclusion they have come to? Don’t worry. A lot of this is fleshed out in plot and setting. If you can’t answer these now, there is always time. Do not be in a rush to know everything before you begin typing. Many of the answers will come to you while you are amidst the action of the story.
  4. Yay or Nay: Think of it this way: We all have stuff we like and stuff we can’t stand. Maybe your character is all about that pineapple pizza or perhaps they’d rather eat cardboard. These thing propel your character or repel them! Tiny things? Maybe. But always relevant to an authentic character.

To Wrap It Up

When you hit that dreaded writer’s block (ugh, we’ve all been there), take a chill pill and revisit these questions. Tweak them, play with them, have a ball. It’s all about getting into your character’s headspace. And note, there’s still more to come if this didn’t get your brain-cogs turning.

Thoughts? Let me know in the comments!


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