So you want to be a writer? Five things to think about when creating characters.

Morning folks!

I do like to do these “five things” posts, don’t I?

Today I want to consider how we write our characters and what it takes to make a character seem, well, real.

This is incredibly important if we want our readers to connect fully with our characters.

The first thing is, to be fair, pretty obvious.

One – Appearance

woman in grey long sleeved shirt
Photo by Ali Pazani on Pexels.com

Appearance is very important.

We live in a very visual world. A world in which how we look is noticed very quickly and assumptions (rightly or wrongly) are made.

As soon as we meet someone we notice their hair, how they dress, their facial features etc. (unless it’s my hubby when I’ve had a haircut. That goes straight over his head, bless him. You’ve just got to love him :)).

Whilst I’m not going to get into a debate here about assumptions made on looks (although, I am dying to have a rant if truth be told :)) we need to make sure, as writers, that we don’t feed into people’s assumptions and their prejudices.

So, why have I picked a pretty girl as the picture to this section? To emphasise the point. And to make sure you’re paying attention. Are you?

Appearance is important. But it’s also important to question and constantly try to challenge these assumptions.

We need to look at things differently and mix it up a little bit.

Besides, how boring is it to read about the millionth heroine with blond hair and blue eyes who is also a fantastic cheerleader, loves animals, aces school and is loved by absolutely everyone?

That’s unless she’s a serial killer by night.

It’s also very boring when people do the “looking in a mirror scene” and then list all of their character’s features.

“I looked at myself in the mirror. My blond hair was perfect, in a bob, just to my shoulders. My green eyes smouldered, looking fabulous in my smoky eye makeup. I adjusted my emerald green top that seemed to set off my eyes…”

You get the picture.

Try and scatter descriptions of your character throughout your writing. Don’t info dump.

You’ll thank me for this one, I promise ๐Ÿ™‚

And please, please, try and think about appearance in a new light. Maybe play with people’s expectations a little. Challenge those assumptions!

Two – Quirks

What is a quirk?

A quirk is a peculiar or special aspect to a person’s character.

Such as Harry Potter’s lightning scar. Or in my book, Dragon Rider, my character WIllow has pink hair and lots of piercings.

Willow

Or it could be a character that recites Charles Bukowski ALL. THE. TIME. Or an autistic child who speaks in cat language. Or maybe they chew gum like it’s going out of fashion (like the cliche I slipped in there?).

Whatever the quirks are, keep it consistent and don’t go too over the top!

Three – Traits

Character traits are an aspect of a person’s behaviour and are therefore a very important ingredient in making a character come alive.

You need to know if a person is lazy or energetic. Are they kind? Are they spiteful?

But please, for the love of God, don’t make your character all good or all evil. People are shades of grey. A good, well-developed character will have good traits and some bad.

Again, try not to use cliches. Mix it up a little bit.

Okay, the next two points are my absolute faves when I’m writing a character. I love to get into the nitty-gritty of what drives my characters. What do they want? That, my friends, is the key question.

Four – Motivation

Why does your hero do what they do? What drives them? What to they NEED?

On a basic level, it could be peer pressure that makes them do what they do. Or curiosity, or guilt or the need to survive?

woman standing on road
Photo by Pedro Sandrini on Pexels.com

Is it evil or good that motivates your character? Do they act out of love or hate?

Or are they acting out of fear? Pain, or rejection?

This is what I love about creating characters. I love to find out what makes them really tick.

Five – flaws

Remember the perfect blond I was talking about earlier?

Well, she doesn’t exist. No real person or character, for that matter, is perfect.

We all have flaws.

What are flaws, I hear you ask?

Good question.

A flaw is a fault or weakness in a person’s character. An imperfection or an undesirable quality in your character.

For example, I am very lazy. I eat far too much chocolate and I drink far too much gin and wine. God, I’ve just realised I’m a walking, talking writer cliche. Who knew? I’m also very clumsy. And I eat too much.

I could go on, but I won’t. I’d be here all day else ๐Ÿ™‚

Flaws can range from the minor ones (eating too much, clumsy etc.) to the major flaws (greed for example) right up to what are known as fatal flaws.

Minor flaws don’t really impact upon the story. Whereas the major flaws do. For instance, the villain’s flaw will eventually lead to her downfall. The hero’s flaw must be overcome at some point in the story. You get the picture.

Fatal flaws, however, are very different. These are specific flaws that tragic heroes possess. These flaws are so great that they cause the character to bring about their own downfall. Prime example, Tony Montana in Scarface. I know it’s a film and not a novel, but I love Scarface ๐Ÿ™‚ The principle still stands.

Want to say hello to my little friend?

No, I thought not, lol!!

So, these are my top five things I like to think about when I create new characters. What do you think?

Anything you’d add to the list?

 

So, you want to be a writer? Five things you need to be a writer.

So, you want to be a writer?

Well, you can if you put your mind to it and put in the hard work. However, there are certain things you need to be or do, to be a writer.

One – You need to put in the time.ย 

Many of us dream about writing, but, to be an actual writer you need to WRITE.

Don’t just talk about it. WRITE.

Make time in your schedule. I know it’s hard. We’re all super busy people BUT you must set aside time to write. Work out a time and/ or, a number of words you want to write in a day or a week and STICK TO IT!

round silver colored wall clock
Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

I know I’m being naggy, but you will thank me in the end.

500 words a day for four days a week is 2000 words. 2000 words over forty weeks is 80,000 words. And that my friends is a novel!

Two – Don’t be afraid of a blank page.

Write! If that blank page scares the hell out of you, write on it anyway. Sometimes, we haven’t got a clue about what we want to write. Write anyway. Often, once we start writing – even if it’s complete drivel – ideas and words begin to flow.

It doesn’t matter if it’s rubbish. You can’t edit a blank page. Get your head down and get writing!

black ball point pen on white notebook
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Three – Don’t be scared of hard work.

I hate to tell you but, this writing game is hard. I think it was Hemingway who said, ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.’

It’s true.

Writing is heavy shit. It’s hard and it takes time. Time to write and time to learn your craft.

It really pisses me off when I watch movies and they have a writer who sits there tapping away on the keyboard and they’ve produced a full-blown novel in about half an hour, and in one sitting. What a lot of tosh.

Or what about the debut novelist who’s overnight success actually took ten years to develop?

If you don’t want to put in the hard work, don’t bother being a writer. It ain’t gonna happen.

Four – Don’t be afraid to fail.

Failure means you’re learning and you’re growing. That shit, my friend, is important. It will make you a better writer. It doesn’t matter how many times you fail, just make sure every time you fall you get back up and straighten your crown.

woman wearing teal dress in reclining position
Photo by Ary Shutter on Pexels.com

And anyway, is it really a fail?

Put what’s happening to you into perspective.

So, your new novel has just been rejected by another agent. Allow yourself time to be sad, have a drink, a walk or whatever you need to feel better, but don’t wallow in it. There are other agents.

I could bore you with tales of how many times very popular and successful authors were rejected but I won’t. Google it.

Failure is par for the course. Suck it up.

It’s not the end of the world.

Five – You need to be open to criticism but have faith in yourself.

This is a tricky line to walk. You have to develop the skill of being open to criticism but also have faith in yourself and your own writing.

This is not easy.

In fact, this is very hard shit.

You will get there but it will take time.

It’s important to be open to suggestions and criticism but be mindful that not every suggestion is going to be right. Sometimes, you need to rely on your own judgement.

This is a very hard skill to master. Only time and experience will develop this skill. And, even then, you can get it wrong. This is okay because mistakes happen. Mistakes are part of life.

Will it get any easier?

Nah.

But you will become more confident the more you write.

And please, please, please, for the love of God, don’t be one of those authors who go after those who leave bad reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I’ve seen some really bad behaviour from authors who have commented on bad reviews calling people names and generally being a sucky person. That shit isn’t cool.

Grow a thicker skin and suck it up. Bad reviews are not only inevitable but also necessary to grow. You’re not going to be everybody’s cup of tea and that’s okay ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay, nag over!

What do you think of these points?

Would you add anything to the list?

 

 

So, You Want to be a writer? Six tips to get you on your way.

So, you want to be a writer?

Here are six tips to help you on your way!

  1. Read. A lot!! I love reading so this isn’t a major issue for me. Reading will make you a better writer. You need to learn somewhere, right? So why not learn from those who came before you? It’s amazing what you can get from other writers. You’ll pick up writing techniques, grammar tips and vocabulary as you go. Learning by osmosis – what’s not to love? And, reading can mean comic books, newspapers, and online articles (like this one :)) so there’s no excuse!! Except, if you have no time, but everyone can make five minutes a day to read, can’t they?

    person holding book
    Photo by fotografierende on Pexels.com
  2. Get yourself a notebook and a pen, go somewhere quiet and write! You don’t need any expensive gadgets to start. Just time, inspiration, and a notebook and pen (there are some gorgeous notebooks out there. And, have you seen some of the beautiful pens you can buy? My personal faves are the coloured biros by Bic, especially the purple ones). It doesn’t even matter if you think it’s bad. Write anyway!

    pencil on spiral notebook
    Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com
  3. Practice. And Practice. And practice… Once you begin writing, keep going. The only way to get better at anything is practice. Maybe take a writing course to hone your skills. Writing courses come in many shapes and sizes. Some are free and some are run by fabulous, well-established writers (Neil Gaiman, I’m looking at you!).
  4. Get feedback. This gives you an outsider’s perspective of your writing. People can tell you where your weak points are, but also when you’re doing something right. You could join a local writing group for this. I did and it improved my writing considerably.

    “Remember, you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s okay!”

  5. Get a thick skin. You’re not always going to write fabulous prose. Sometimes your work will be utter crap. Don’t be afraid to face that fact. And even when your work is absolutely amazing and fabulous, people will tear it apart and make you feel like dirt. Unfortunately, this is something we, as writers, have to live with. Not everyone is going to love what you write and you need to learn to live with that. Write anyway! Remember, you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s okay!
  6. Write! Make sure you write, even if it’s just a few words every day. Don’t just talk about it. Write! Write your first draft even if it’s utter rubbish. Don’t worry, everyone’s first draft is crap (I mean, have you read my first draft of Death’s Apprentice, written here on my blog as I go? Try reading it, you’ll see what I mean :)). But as they say, you can’t edit a blank page! You can edit your writing though. And edit. And edit. Rewrites will make your writing shine!

    wood light creative space
    Photo by Miguel ร. Padriรฑรกn on Pexels.com

As Charles Buckowski said:

“There is no losing in writing, it will make your toes laugh as you sleep, it will make you stride like a tiger, it will fire the eye and put you face to face with death. You will die a fighter, you will be honored in hell. The luck of the word. Go with it.”