Wednesday, August 7, 2013

SIX WAYS TO GET TO KNOW YOUR CHARACTERS BY RITA KARNOPP

When I started writing my first book, characterization was my main focus.  I knew if I got to know – really know my characters - then my readers would care about them too.  So, especially as a beginning writer – how can we get to know our characters before starting the story?

1.    The first thing I like to do is imagine is what he/she looks like.  Yep – I want a visual image.  I will spend hours going through internet pictures of men, women, children… until I find pictures that best portray the characters of my book.  I will print those pictures for my ‘story board.’
 
2.    Define five traits about each character: name, age, appearance (size, eye color, hair color, freckles, big hands, broad/thin, short/tall, tattoos, limp, etc.), relationships (married, divorced, children? Etc.) and personality (introvert, loud/quiet, angry, happy, split-to the world happy/home a monster, etc.)
 
3.    Once your book is finished - go through and read each character’s dialog – are they staying in-character?  Would he/she really say that?  Are the physical traits correct?  Are the character’s actions realistic?  Do one character at a time.
 
4.    Rewrite any areas that sound forced or unnatural.
 
5.    Did a character, or maybe several, appear in the beginning but not in the end, or vice versa?  Will the reader wonder what happened to them? Are they necessary to your story?  If not – delete them – this will tighten your story.   
 
6.    Are there any unresolved issues?  Did you notice any foreshadowing by a character that hasn’t been carried out or explained by the end?  If so – tighten it up and resolve or explain the incident.  Again – is this clue necessary to help tell, excite, or make the reader ask ‘is he/she the killer?’  If it isn’t necessary – get rid of it.

Just these simple six items will help you get to know your characters better, will keep your characters true, and will make your story tighter. 

2 comments:

Molly Daniels said...

LOL....in one of my last books, I had a dog in Ch. 2. I didn't realize until two days before the book released it doesn't show up again, even though the heroine goes home twice more! So I notified my publisher and quickly added the dog to a three more scenes. Whew!

Rita Karnopp said...

Wow, Molly - what a catch! I've started jotting down things that I need to follow-through with later . . . save me from the stress of wondering ..'what did I forget'... Thanks for sharing. :) Rita

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