On her blog The Write Soil Dawn discussed the importance of naming your character – What’s in a Name . This post really got me thinking about my deepest, darkest, secret -my book. That’s right; I’ve written an entire book -in my head. I’ve been too afraid to actually put the words down on paper or type them on the computer screen. But no more! It’s time I got over my fear and set my story free!
Like Dawn said, “character names are very important for stories”. I think I have the perfect name for my character; I think I’m on the right track, but perhaps I haven’t done enough homework on the matter. Enter one of my favorite ‘how to write’ books – How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich with Ina Yalof. If you aren’t familiar with Janet Evanovich, she writes a mystery series featuring main character Stephanie Plum, and the novels are beyond entertaining with characters you can’t help but love and humor that makes you laugh out loud!
Here are some of the tips on creating great characters from Janet Evanovich’s book:
- It’s critical to have memorable characters.
- Go beyond describing physical attributes, what he/she does or and where he/she goes.
- Bring your character to life by motivating them and giving them personalities that set them apart from any other character.
- Tell your reader everything about your character – where he/she’s been; where he/she’s headed, what he/she’s all about.
- Do this through your character’s actions, decisions, and choices.
- Never be ambivalent about your character – make your reader feel something for your character.
- Study the people around you for inspiration.
- The main character must want something.
- Someone or something must stand in the way of getting what they want.
- The choices that characters make in their efforts to overcome obstacles and ultimately get what they want define who they are.
- For believable characters, pay close attention to the details you use to describe them. Make sure these details are relevant and appropriate to your story.
- Make the characters’ dialogue and actions unique to them.
- It’s okay to exaggerate your character’s actions to make him/her a little bit bigger than life, or funnier, or scarier.
- Early in the book show the following for each main character : physical characteristics, background or history, and ethics and morals.
I’ve gotten to know my main character very well over the past few years; after all, she’s been constantly lurking around my mind, practically begging to be released. However, it never hurts to try and learn more about her. Enter Alison Pearce Stevens and Super Snooper Blogfest This took place yesterday, but better late than never and I hope Dawn will join me in this exercise!
Instructions: Describe a setting that tells us something about your character’s personality. Characters can be of any age, living in any time or place. But don’t tell us about the character, tell us about his or her stuff. We’ll get to know the character from what you write.
Beads from every color of the rainbow hang from the dresser mirror that reflects the room’s chaos. The purple suitcase lay open on the unmade bed. It is filled to overflowing with jeans, graphic t-shirts, hoodies, and pajama pants in a multitude of patterns: polka dots, plaid, monkeys, cats in ballerina tutus. Hanging on the closet door are a purple dress with ruffles, a pink and orange striped sun dress and a hunter-green polyester jumper. Lined up in a row by the side of the twin bed are an array of flip-flops in vibrant colors, a pair of sneakers decorated with peace signs, a pair of sneakers decorated with hearts, a plain brown pair of sandals, a pair of shiny, never-been-worn black slip-ons and a sad pair of worn-out bunny slippers.
Any guesses on what my character is like?