Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Tip

I found these tips to be really helpful. We really want to make good characters and compelling ones, but that can only be done if we make them believable. The website I got this from is a good resource for tips and ideas and I have found it very helpful.

1. Appearance

Writers are naturally inclined to make their main characters especially attractive unless they believe there is a very good reason to do otherwise: The character wishes to avoid attention, the story has an ugly duckling theme, or the character is reprehensible (in which case they might nevertheless be, for contrast, extremely good looking).

Just a realistic is it to have a character that is good looking, has perfect teeth, no bad breath and can juggle ten knives at a time?

Don’t introduce your character with an extensive physical appraisal, but do sprinkle hints about their appearance (or don’t — many great works of literature don’t describe main characters’ looks at all). Make sure that physical features are consistent with that person’s ethnic origins, unless there’s a good reason for exceptions.

If you do want readers to visualize your conception of the character, consider not just physical characteristics but also carriage and comportment. How does the person move? Fast, or slow? Purposefully, or uncertainly? Gracefully, or awkwardly? Self-consciously, or without regard for how they are perceived?

2. Attire

How do your characters dress? The period and locale will determine the general costume, but personality is still easily conveyed within these parameters. What does what the people wear say about their social status and about their character? Is their clothing austere, or ostentatious? Prim, or provocative? What kind of accessories, if any, do they wear, and why?

When I first started writing I would detail every little thing that my character wore. Down to the last pin-knife in her boot. It got boring for me to write, and my intended audience (my brothers) had no patience for which dress went best with which boots...

3. Business

I refer here not to business as a synonym for commerce but in the theatrical sense of the character’s physical actions. What facial expressions do they employ? Are they self-conscious about them, or are they natural, or does it depend? If the character is physically demonstrative, how is this characteristic conveyed?

Do they use their hands a lot, or is the person’s entire body an instrument of expression? Do they often handle or caress objects? Does their business convey calm, or are they fidgety? Do they make physical contact with other people? Do they observe conventions of social distance (the space people leave between each other according to their social status and relationship)? Do they establish and maintain eye contact — and is this a sign of forthrightness, or an effort to discomfit or dominate others — or are they evasive about it?

What implements do they carry and use? Are these objects practical, like tools, or are they talismans? Does this person rely on instruments, or on thoughts and ideas, or on both?

All I can say is that my life better not depend on my ability to do this any time soon.

There are two more points but since it's super long as it is I will post those tomorrow as part of the book review. I hope this helps!

- Stoss Cue

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