- Guest Post by Alex A. Akira
Even if you have a character firmly in your mind’s eye, it is good to flesh them out to help make them more viable, especially if they are a lead in your story. Not all of the information you discover about your character will go into your story, in fact I’d say at least one-third of what you come up with will barely be touched upon. But it is helpful to know as much about your characters as possible. This enables you to keep them in character and helps you write about them in a manner that is believable.
Besides the physical appearance of the character, I believe it essential to know the following:
Emotional make up: What drives them? What makes them angry? What makes them sad? How do they feel about their siblings, parents , etc., and why? Do they have any unusual fears? When are they apathetic? How is their libido and what turns them on ?
Mentally: How do they think; are they a reactor ora responder? Do they analyze before approaching a problem or do they jump right in? Are they mentality stable or are they paranoid about certain subjects? Does their job affect their mentality? Do they have a different mindset when they are in a relationship?
Spiritual or Consciousness: What do they believe in? What part of their lineage or ancestry do they identify with? What part of themselves do they love? Hate? What are their hopes and dreams? Who do they aspire to be?
Some other questions that help make your character believable are:
Where do they work? Live? Play? Are they into sports or theatre? If so, watching or performing? Do they like or keep animals/pets? Do they like children? What speech patterns do they have? Are they into music either a listener or a player? Do they drive? If so which vehicle do they prefer? Do they ride, if so what? A horse? Camel? Can they swim? Would they know what to do if someone started to choke in front of them? I’m sure you get the idea of how these, and other pertinent questions can help you build a believable character.
After figuring out what traits you want your character to have, research those you know little or nothing about, the same goes for the environments you will place that person in. If your character is going to be a mountain climber, on the off chance that an actual mountain climber reads your book, you want them to feel relatively good about what you have written. Taking time out to research the unfamiliar can help make every aspect of your story believable.
After you run out of character trait inspiration from your circle of friends and acquaintances, study strangers that arrest your attention. They have tells that upon study will reveal interesting traits. Imagining the life of a total stranger can be a fun exercise.
What does the man in the suit hold in that odd shaped briefcase? Why did that girl comb her hair like that? How and why did she grow her fingernails that long? What is the reason that man wore that fur collared overcoat on this warm day? Why is that boy looking at that girl who obviously doesn’t know him?
The world is a strange place, many of us have unbelievable traits, but by keeping your character in character and supplying the reasoning behind the characteristic, you can make the most unbelievable character, believable.