Sunday, 7 May 2017

Writing: Character Development PART 2

Welcome to part 2 of my character development post. I hope you found the previous post helpful, if you haven't had the chance to check it out yet then here it is.
If you've already read the last post then you must be ready for part 2! As I said in the previous post this time I will be helping you to plan out your characters in greater detail, telling you how I planned my characters out and what did/didn't work for me. I'm also going to give an example or two of some characters that are extremely flat.
Let's get this show on the road.

How To Plan Out Your Characters

Creating characters takes alot of planning, and ALOT of detail. I spent a long time researching and making notes on how to create the best and most realistic characters.
Some of the best tips I picked up was to almost go into too much detail about your characters. Some details will make you wonder why anyone would want to know this. However you have to remember that you're planning out these characters for yourself as well as the reader. You're the only one thats going to read the notes you make. However it's good to plan out every last detail and then you can decide later on what exactly the reader does and doesn't need to know. It's important to let the reader get to know your character inside and out, they have to become close to them to get the full effect of what happens in the characters life.
Your characters need to have an opinion on everything and also a reason for why they have that opinion. Even if they don't have an opinion on something, why not?
The characters belong to you, they come out of your mind, therefore you need to know more about them than anyone else.
In order to create brilliant characters you need to be able to know them like they're your own family. You also need to be able to visualise them in your mind easily. I'll get on to how to do this later.
As I mentioned in part 1 of the post it's good to make your characters relatable, they need to be able to struggle with life like normal people do. Your reader will spend alot of time with the characters so think about who your target audience is and then create your characters based on that.
Character creation can be made easy by researching around, there are plenty of free printables or worksheets on places like Pinterest that can guide you through planning out characters. This would be very helpful for when you plan out your first ever characters.

What I Did

When looking for tips and advice on character creation I mainly used my Pinterest app, I created myself a board and pinned everything I found useful there for later on, I could then refer back to it whenever I needed to.
On Pinterest I found a great list of things to include about your characters. I literally went through the list and planned out my characters like that.

When first creating my characters I tried to plan out plenty of details on each one. I created a 'character sheet' which was one page of description and personality traits. I thought this would be enough. I thought wrong. I then wrote my entire novel working from the characters sheets I'd already made. During the editing process i discovered that my characters were as flat as pancakes. As much as the thought of re-creating my character sheets struck fear into my heart, I soldiered on and did it. Now my character sheets are all at least 2 pages long and some of them are even 3! Now my characters are becoming much more alive. They may need more work but I'll soon find out when I've finished my first edit.

Also when creating my characters I made a 'character bank'. For this I used a notebook and inside it, for each of my characters I jotted down a few basic descriptions of their features. I then drew a basic sketch of the character and also used some examples from magazines of the characters features.
This helped me to keep a good visualisation of my characters. I also added a paragraph at the bottom of the page describing the character, which I used to refer back to when writing my book.
I must admit when I found out my characters were ridiculously flat I was pretty gutted but after re-creating them I actually felt as though I knew them better than I did before. Which is what proved to me that my characters indeed were no where near good enough.
I do feel that creating characters is one of the most difficult parts of writing a book, the characters are a huge part of what keeps readers interested in the story. Even if you're plot is a killer, if your characters are flat then your readers will get bored.
My main tip for when analysing your characters is to read them like you didn't know them, pretend your meeting them for the first time, then if you struggle to understand them or you find them boring and flat then you know the readers will as well. Then this is your opportunity to change them.


Now I read a lot of books. Which is so helpful for writing my own, I've even been able to get tips from some of the books I've read.
A few months back I found an example of a book with extremely flat characters.
The book was called Snakewood and was by Adrian Selby. I noticed the problems with the book a handful of chapters in. The book had too many characters and the story was unfolding too quickly for the reader to pin point who each character was. There were no details given about the characters meaning the storyline was hard to follow and not engaging at all.  The authors main mistake was introducing a new character each chapter but not explaining anything about them. This made the book hard to read. The book was in fact so hard to read that I couldn't finish it.

Introducing characters is so important to a book. The characters need to be introduced in great detail, however the reader needs to continue to find some things out about them as the story goes, things like memories and past can be saved until later. However background and personality need to be introduced much sooner.

That concludes part 2 of my character development post. I hope my few tips have been helpful to you and I hope your characters are as real as they can be! Keep checking out my blog for some more writing tips! But until then happy writing!

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