Character Creation 101 (part 7)

Hello, and welcome to Character Creation 101! I haven’t worked out our syllabus yet, so bear with me. It’ll take some time to work out what we’re going to do in here.

Or… maybe we could just take it one character at a time.

Yeah, let’s do that.

For these final three weeks, you and I will be exploring various character types and traits, and delving into how to write them well, no matter the story you’re working on. After all, characters are some of the most important parts of writing, whether you’re writing novels, novellas, or even short stories. If the characters are awful, no amount of amazing story will help you. Trust me on that.

 

Thus far, I’ve talked about protagonists, antagonists, sidekicks, dead men walking, lovers, and silent types… but I still have three more to talk to you about, and today’s is one of my favorites. I love writing this character, no matter the story, even though it’s not always a necessary one.

The Hobbit

 

I’m sure you’re wondering what I mean by this. Well. Hobbits are sweet and gentle, fond of growing things, and see a bright outlook on everything around them—and that’s the kind of character I’m talking about.

 

How to create a character who sees good in everything, no matter what

I want to start by telling you that if they’re done wrong, this can be one of the flattest characters around, and one of the most easily expendable. But if they’re done well, they’ll be a reader favorite, one who everyone comes back to time and time again, to remember what it’s like to see everything through rose-colored glasses.

 

Use Your Childhood

This is one of the best ways to write a hobbit, because in many ways, they’re very childlike. Not childish, mind you. They’re not whiny or annoying, but bright and cheerful. They hold hope in their hearts, no matter what, and they see the good in everything—even when there’s arguably no good to see. This time, I’ll use a character from one of my books. Think of Sasha, from Mynidd, when you’re thinking of a good hobbit character who is not a hobbit at all. He’s joyful, hopeful, and willing to see good even where no one else sees it. He’s a good man, a kind man, and one who helps everyone around him in every way he can. He’s like a young boy, a child, one who wants only to see and do good, always.

 

Use Your Heart

Of course. The heart is the most important part of a hobbit. They have heart enough for ten characters, wrapped up in a single one. They have kindness and joy within them, such that could break a book if done improperly. Write them in a way that allows freedom, a method that lets them be free and experience the world as only they can. Let them smile, let them laugh, let them crack jokes, even in the face of deepest hardship.

 

Use Your Head

Write them carefully, no matter what you do. The hobbit can be overpowering, and can steal the show if you’re not paying close attention. Hobbits are loveable to nearly everyone, they’re rarely expendable, and they’re someone our readers attach to very easily. Don’t write that simply, don’t create it haphazardly. Put thought into every single thing they do and say, but not so much that they lose their childlike nature.

Be prepared to love them, too. Prepare to start seeing the world like they do, even if it’s only for a short time. Be ready for them to steal your heart, as they steal the hearts of so many others.

 

They’ll love you back, don’t worry.

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.

Character Creation 101 (part 6)

Hello, and welcome to Character Creation 101! I haven’t worked out our syllabus yet, so bear with me. It’ll take some time to work out what we’re going to do in here.

Or… maybe we could just take it one character at a time.

Yeah, let’s do that.

For the next four weeks, you and I will be exploring various character types and traits, and delving into how to write them well, no matter the story you’re working on. After all, characters are some of the most important parts of writing, whether you’re writing novels, novellas, or even short stories. If the characters are awful, no amount of amazing story will help you. Trust me on that.

 

Thus far, we’ve discussed protagonists, antagonists, and sidekicks, and started to get a bit more specific by talking about the dead man walking and the lover, but today, I have one of my least favorites to talk about. But, I suppose I’ll even talk about them.

The Silent Type

 

Who are they, you ask? Well, they’re an introvert. There’s not much else to it. They’re the character who doesn’t generally speak to or associate with the other characters in the book, despite how annoying that is to deal with. But they’re also a character that can speak volumes, when they finally say something. Anything.

 

How to create an introvert

Unless you’re an introvert, this is extremely difficult to manage. Especially if you’re writing in first person through a different character’s POV, it’s tricky to do right. Their personality can take on many forms, but they’re primarily very quiet and misunderstood, from the point of view of every other character in the story.

 

But how do we write them?

 

Use Your Noggin

Think, think, think. That’s what introverts do. They’re always thinking, usually two steps ahead of everyone else in the room, and they’re very, very smart. They usually know a great deal about everyone around them, even if everyone around them knows very little about the introvert in question. Often very trusted and trustworthy, and often in a great deal of scenes, without making a show of themselves. But that’s not easy to write, so I suggest you think through every single thing you have them do. If it’s not utterly necessary for them to speak in any given scene, keep them quiet—but keep them in the picture, no matter what, because like I said, they’re always there.

 

Use Your Head

Yes, these both essentially mean the same thing, but that ought to tell you how important it is. Use your head, man—because that’s exactly what your introvert will be doing. They think: they listen, they eavesdrop, and they never miss a beat. I’ve noticed that a lot of them tend to be snarky as well, so don’t be afraid to add things like that in, either. The point is, let your character be who they want to be. Let them be quiet and shy, let them be seen as an outsider or an oddity, let your readers think less of them. Why? Because that’s the way most introverts are, in reality.

They aren’t easy. I should know that. I’ve struggled to write them, and ended up writing them out of several stories, but I’ve also written very clear ones, and I’ve seen plenty of them that truly make a story what it is.

Be prepared to feel out of place, even if you are an introvert. It’s not in general nature to write them, as I’m sure you’ll have noticed if you’ve been writing for a while.

 

Push through. Keep going. Because the silent type is worth it, if you can get them right.

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.

Character Creation 101 (part 5)

Hello, and welcome to Character Creation 101! I haven’t worked out our syllabus yet, so bear with me. It’ll take some time to work out what we’re going to do in here.

Or… maybe we could just take it one character at a time.

Yeah, let’s do that.

For the next five weeks, you and I will be exploring various character types and traits, and delving into how to write them well, no matter the story you’re working on. After all, characters are some of the most important parts of writing, whether you’re writing novels, novellas, or even short stories. If the characters are awful, no amount of amazing story will help you. Trust me on that.

 

Today, someone we all know very well... 

The Lover

 

Who is the lover, you ask? Well, they’re the character whose sole ambition, whose only driving force, is love. That can come in many forms, of course. It can be the love of people, the love of a specific person, of children, of animals, or even the love of life in general, but it is their sole reason for being. They also make a great protagonist, if written correctly, and especially in romance or romantic novels.

 

How to write someone who truly loves

For many writers, this character is extremely difficult to write, simply because we’re not always well acquainted with the notion of love to this extreme. If we haven’t experienced it, if we haven’t felt it to those heights, then how could we ever hope to write a character who loves like that? How could we be expected to write a character who loves with every facet of their being, from the very depths of their heart, when we can’t even do that ourselves? Well, let’s take a look.

 

Use Your Heart

Of course, this has to be the first step. Why wouldn’t it be? This character is one who loves, with their heart, so we must use our hearts to write them. Search for that good part of yourself, that lover in yourself, to write this character. Make them someone who sees sunshine everywhere they look—which makes it even more heartbreaking, when something happens in your story, to take their love away. Because, of course, that’s always what their story is about. A story that includes a lover, is always about a lover who has lost their will to love, and must find it again.

 

Use Your Head

This character, like most others, requires some deft thinking. Pay attention to what you’re doing with them, watch the way you use them, the way they move, the way they interact with everyone, so it doesn’t become unbelievable. Remember that it’s not often in life, for someone to come across an actual lover, so we have to write them in a way that everyone can understand. Think it through, don’t write them in a way that feels unbelievable, and if it’s starting to feel cheesy, don’t be afraid to delete it and start over. There’s never anything wrong with that, especially if you feel the story isn’t going the way you want it to.

 

Use Your Love

Ah yes, of course, love. That’s what the lover is all about. So find it within yourself, and write it from your heart. Consider yourself as someone who loves with every facet of your being, and write this character as though they were you. In my experience, it’ll help you be a better person and a better writer, in the end. Let it be your driving force, for a while, and it’ll be simpler for it to be the driving force of your character.

As always, the lover isn’t simple to write. They may be simple in story, easy in their goals, but that in and of itself can make them one of the most difficult to create in a realistic way. They’re easy to make wrong, to shape into something they shouldn’t be, something cheesy and nonsensical.

So, when you’re writing one, be prepared to feel silly, as we all do when we’re writing about love. Be prepared to feel, more than you have in a very long time, and be ready to have your heart crushed as the story progresses.

 

Aren’t we always?

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.

Character Creation 101 (part 4)

Hello, and welcome to Character Creation 101! I haven’t worked out our syllabus yet, so bear with me. It’ll take some time to work out what we’re going to do in here.

Or… maybe we could just take it one character at a time.

Yeah, let’s do that.

For the next six weeks, you and I will be exploring various character types and traits, and delving into how to write them well, no matter the story you’re working on. After all, characters are some of the most important parts of writing, whether you’re writing novels, novellas, or even short stories. If the characters are awful, no amount of amazing story will help you. Trust me on that.

The last few weeks, we’ve talked about protagonists, antagonists, and even sidekicks. Today, let’s delve into a slightly more specific character type.

The Dead Man Walking

 

The dead man walking is the character we love, the character designed for everyone to care about, specifically because they’re designed to die in the end. If you know my books at all, then you know I write this character from time to time. There’s often someone loveable in stories, someone highly important, who we know will die in the end. It’s one of the few things I know about the future of my characters, in fact, primarily because I couldn’t bear it if I had to kill them off on the spot.

 

How to design a loveable character, specifically so they’ll create emotion

If you know anything at all about character writing, then you know this is one of the hardest. In fact, this is the type of character I dread to write. Yeah, I know, I still write it. But I’d rather write dozens of all the other character types than focus on this one.

 

Use Your Heart

The dead man walking is the heart of a story. They’re the one who holds every good thing in their soul, the one who stays true to the path no matter what. They’re often gallant, often childlike, and often very flawed. The dead man walking tends to be the most loved character in a book, which is what marks them out as the one who may die in the end. The best piece of advice I can give you when writing this sort of character is to make sure you write a character you love. Don’t hold yourself back, don’t keep yourself from loving them, from making them all they could be. If you don’t love them, then your readers won’t either. And if nobody loves them, they won’t work as well, as a character.

 

Use Your Head

No matter what, design your dead man walking as someone who is not expendable. That is, perhaps, the most difficult part. The dead man walking must be and feel integral to the story, they must be someone none of us wishes to lose, someone we would hold onto until the end of our days, if we could. Make them central, make them matter. Sometimes, you could even make them the protagonist. I’ve done that, once or twice, and it works very well in certain circumstances. If they’re not integral, if they’re expendable, then their death means nothing in the end—and then you haven’t created the dead man walking at all.

 

Again, when you’re writing one, be prepared to fall in love. Be prepared to have your heart broken when they die. And don’t be afraid to write another one, when you’re done. Why? Because it’s a pure thing, an unadulterated thing, when a writer kills off a character even they love, and readers feel that the same as we do.

They’re a character we all love, and a character we weep over when the end comes. But they’re also a character we cannot do without, because good stories should break our hearts, time to time.

 

That’s part of the joy of reading—feeling every bit of emotion, from start to finish.

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.

Character Creation 101 (part 3)

Hello, and welcome to Character Creation 101! I haven’t worked out our syllabus yet, so bear with me. It’ll take some time to work out what we’re going to do in here.

Or… maybe we could just take it one character at a time.

Yeah, let’s do that.

For the next seven weeks, you and I will be exploring various character types and traits, and delving into how to write them well, no matter the story you’re working on. After all, characters are some of the most important parts of writing, whether you’re writing novels, novellas, or even short stories. If the characters are awful, no amount of amazing story will help you. Trust me on that.

The last two weeks, we’ve discussed both protagonists and antagonists, and it seemed to me that the most logical progression would be to talk about…

The Sidekick

 

The sidekick is the secondary character who aids the protagonist. They’re not quite a primary character, but they’re almost there. It’s like Robin, in Batman and Robin. Batman is the cool one, the one we all care about, but Robin is very important as well—especially if you’ve been paying attention.

 

How to create a worthy sidekick

As always, this character isn’t exactly the easiest to write. Though at this point I’d venture to say that there are no characters who are supremely easy to create. I think some are simpler, depending on what you’re used to, but there are no easy ones. Not at all.

 

Use Your Protagonist

What does your protagonist need? What quality are they lacking? What one thing didn’t they have, that you really wanted them to have? That’s what your sidekick should be. Essentially, the sidekick is the character who fills in a hole and completes the protagonist. I’ll use Frodo and Sam from The Lord of the Rings, as an example. Frodo is a strong character, one who’s determined to get the ring to Mordor, but it’s Sam who has the heart to get it there, Sam who refuses to give up along the way (not the best example, since both Frodo and Sam are protagonists in that story, but you get my point).

 

Use Your Feelings

The best thing about the sidekick, to me, is that they’re always more feelings-centric. And I don’t mean that they’re emotional, but that they cater to the emotional needs of your reader. Your sidekick needs to be someone who can take a beating (whether verbally or physically will depend on your story and your protagonist), someone who stands up for what’s right, who never wavers, but who will never steal the spotlight. They need to be loveable, yet entirely forgettable when it comes right down to it.

 

Use Your Head

When writing a sidekick, you need to be using your head. You need to be thinking, thoughtful, considerate of every single thing they do—primarily because it’s not always a difficult thing, for them to steal that spotlight from your protagonist. Your sidekick needs to be someone who stands against the antagonist, and someone who is (unfortunately) expendable.

They’re not easy to write. In fact, I might venture to say that they’re even harder than either the protagonist or the antagonist, but they’re just as important. For many of us, our protagonist isn’t enough to move the story forward on their own, and our antagonist is just too powerful for them to overcome alone. And that’s where the sidekick comes in.

When you’re writing one, be prepared to fall in love—but be ready to let go at a moment’s notice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost my sidekicks, my one character I loved, who’d propelled the plot forward when my protagonist refused. But they’re always the one to make the ending work out for the best, the one who completes the story.

 

They’re a character we’re always going to need.

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.