Writers are always hoping to create vivid, realistic characters that readers can relate to but sometimes this can be challenging. And what do you do when all your characters end up being… well, kind of like you? At the Christian Writer’s Conference author Paula Vince shared some ideas for creating great characters.
(1) Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
Paula talked about walking around a block and taking great note of your surroundings. But then thinking about what other people might notice going around the same block – for instance a toddler might find all the zeroes on letter boxes, an artist might want to go off the beaten track, an insect expert might be stopped by every bug and a blind person might be tuned in to the sounds. Literally thinking about how someone else might experience the world can give you a feel for what your character might be focusing on.
(2) Use trivia.
Give your character a strange hobby or interest and then you can put any sort of trivia into their mouths
(3) Assign a sense of humour to your character.
Different characters might utilise slapstick, black humour, dry humour, sarcasm or have a recurrent lame joke on the same theme.
(4) Consider the four temperaments.
Psychology prescribes these as Melancholic (analytical and quiet), Sanguine (optimistic leader-like), Phlegmatic (relaxed and peaceful) and Choleric (bad-tempered or irritable). Which one does your character fit into?
(5) Use other characters to reveal your character.
Paula gave the example of Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series. Luna in the magical world may not actually be super weird but seen through the eyes of Hermione (the voice of reason) she comes across as highly eccentric.
Personally, I’ve been studying books on archetypes recently to learn more about different character types. And while they’re interesting, they’re still just ‘types’ – actually trying to create a character that feels like a real human being is something I’m finding very tricky. How about you?