Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A to Z Challenge: T

T is for Tailor Made Characters. Talk to them.

Designing characters is like designing a dress. There is a pattern you start with but you are free add lace, replace buttons with a zipper, and use a different type of fabric than what the pattern calls for in the directions. Feel free to subtract inches and in-seams if necessary. Use elastic instead of string. It's your dress! Follow the pattern, but improvise! Tailor made characters are the best of the best because you created them to be different than the rest.

Have you created a character? Have you given him or her a problem?

Okay, the next thing in designing a character is to make sure your character has a very gripping and compelling need. The kind of need you give your character may change before the story ends, but without a need that drives your character forward, the will be no need to have a story. And the need may be different than the problem he or she must work through. Or it may be the same.


When I read a book with riveting characters and the sequel finally hits the market, reading book two often feels like I am meeting a group of old friends again after a long interlude.

People want to read about characters and many readers fall in love or hate with the characters inside the pages of a book. I have often read books that lacked a good plot but I finished the book anyway. Why? Because the characters were interesting. I became mentally involved with the characters as if they were real. These characters drew me into the book and I could not stop caring for them. I was not satisfied until I made it to the end of the book and learned how my characters turned out from beginning to end.

Here is a tip I use: When developing my characters, I write about them like I know them. In other words, I imagine the people in my book have been long time friends, or enemies, and I know them well enough to help my readers know them.

How can you write about a character if you have never met them? It's time for you to meet your characters! Interview them. Talk to them. Ask them questions. Talk to their friends and family. Ask their co-workers and boss questions. Get to know your character so your readers can know them too.

This is the best and easiest way to Tailor your characters into perfection. What have you talked to your character about today?

16 comments:

  1. Can't say I talk to them, but I do design them in depth before I begin writing, complete with a past, strengths and weaknesses, and a goal.

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    1. I guess you talk to them in your mind. Are you a mind reader? hehe But I'm learning to do this and it makes such a huge difference in my characters:)

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  2. I talk to them. When I'm writing a story there's a lot of mumbling under my breath that drives my family crazy, so I try to keep to my office or outside by myself. If I ask a character a question, they usually come back with the answer in their own voice. Okay, I'm certifiable, but I don't care.

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    1. Maybe one day, your characters and my characters can meet? Imagine the conversation???

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  3. I like to write bios for my characters of their life before the story opens. That often helps me connect with them.

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    1. That's a great tip. Thank you for sharing:)

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  4. I do the full back ground check on my characters - I need to know about their first day at nursery because you never know when it might be relevant ;)
    I also put a lot of thought into their clothes - sometimes you need to know how the tailoring might impede movement - I wouldn't want them to find running easy ;)

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    1. That's a lot of detailed research, but I'm sure that helps your characters so much!

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  5. My characters are quite real to me, so I do hold daily conversations with them (I know that makes me sound a bit crazy, but this is what writers do, right?). ;-) I'm always worried I'm missing something from their story, so I always ask them to remind me why they chose me to to explain their experiences. :-)

    Happy A to Zing!

    http://cbwentworth.wordpress.com

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  6. I love this, what a great piece on characters. Never thought to interview them, now I think I will:)

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  7. I've been with a lot of my characters for over 20 years, and a lot for as long as 10-15 years. I literally grew up with some of them, and feel like we're old friends after so many years together. It reaches a point where a book sort of writes itself, or it writes you instead of you writing it, because you know the characters so well.

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  8. Great post. I've done character interviews several times. I'm struggling with a main character right now- but I know she and I will get along here soon just swimmingly.
    ~Summer
    My Blog

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  9. I had trouble with this when I first started writing, my character's voices were so vanilla and meshed together. I did, what you're suggesting here and made a list of different traits and characteristics, and now they each have their own voice.

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  10. Great idea for developing characters..interviewing them!
    Thanks for visiting my blog! Glad I found yours!

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  11. Like with all relationships, I tend to spend as much time as I can knowing them before writing about them. I like to "write" to them, and take time to know their personalities.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  12. Very insightful post. Tailoring is a word I never thought of, but it's perfect.

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