Tuesday, December 31, 2013

GET TO KNOW YOUR HERO AND HEROINE BY RITA KARNOPP

Okay, I rather doubt that you’ve never heard about making character checklists that ask what your hero and heroine are like.  I mean – come on- in order to write about them, we need to portray and understand them, right?

Everyone has their own tailored list, I know I do.  And I’m adding to it all the time.  Why?  Because, if we don’t understand our characters, we won’t know how they’ll react in any given situation.  Face it, we respond, react, and feel about a situation, because of what we’ve learned along our path in life.  The same applies to our characters.

When getting ready to start a book, I ask myself the following questions and jot down notes (in my 5”x5” notebook – which I create for every book I write).

While going through this process of getting to know your characters, keep in mind questions your hero and heroine agree and disagree on.  For instance, her mother left her and she hates anything connected with mothers.  He on the other hand has a devoted, loving mother who would so anything for him.

So what types of questions should you ask?

·        Character name (soooo important) Does it have a meaning?
·        Age
·        Physical appearance
o   Any particular tags – lisp, limp, stutter,
o   Manerisms?
o   Accents
o   Heritage
§  Baggage on this?
§  Parental baggage?
§  Siblings? (do they get along?)
§  Birth information – state – live there whole life?  Where is he/she now?  Why?
·        Where does story take place?
·        Been married before?  Divorced/widowed?  Bad relationship? Good relationship – why did it end?
o   Is she/he bitter about opposite sex?
o   Any love interests now?
·        Children?  Sex/ages
·        Friends/male-female/ if pertinent to story?
·        Enemies?
·        Live in house, apartment, in country, city? 
o   Style?
o   Live alone/sharing?
o   Personal style
·        Hobbies?
·        Education
·        Job?  Career?
·        Goals?  Aspirations?
·        Secrets?
·        Personal issues?
·        What makes her/him far from perfect? 
o   I include this one – because when I started writing – my characters didn’t have enough ‘flaws’ … it’s important not to create perfect characters – no one is perfect (much to my chagrin!)
·        At the beginning of story – what is her/his main problem?
·        What does she/he do to make the situation worse?
·        What does the hero hate/love about heroine?
·        What does the heroine hate/love about hero?
·        What about hero do you want reader to love/hate?
·        What about heroine do you want reader to love/hate?
·        Why should the reader care about the hero?
·        Why should the reader care about the heroine?

Once you finish running through the questions above (1800s Native American story – not all apply) – jot down what surprised you.   You’ll know your characters better after answering these questions.  Are you ready to start writing now?

Bear in mind – even though you know so much about your characters – don’t put all the information in your story just because you have it.  You may never have to share she hates her old boyfriend from high school . . . if it has no impact on the story.

Getting to know your characters ahead of time will make him/her ‘real’ in your mind – and therefore, they become real on paper.

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