Monday, March 2, 2015

5 Character Building Tips

So you want to be a writer. Great! Welcome to the club! Have a cookie and some coffee, it's the last free food you're going to get for a while. What's that? You've been writing for a couple years now? Oh. Uh. Have a cookie anyway!

As a writer I feel one of the most important steps is creating believable characters. It sounds easy to make them right? It isn't. Often times you accidentally write your characters too perfect--there's nothing wrong with them, or if there is they manage to downplay it or 'get better'. Tell me, do you want to hang out with some one who always smiles and never has a care in the world--and if they do they just smile more. Yeah, I'd run for cover too. So here are 5 tips (randomly pulled from a baseball cap along with a rabbit) for you to make better characters!

1) Don't make them perfect: Seriously. Don't. They're boring to read because everything they do and say is perfect. They give the right advice all the time, they never make mistakes. They're completely untouchable and unrelatable. It's like that golden haired size 1 cheerleader named Amber who is not only popular with the popular kids, but with the unpopular kids too. Her grades are perfect, her parents love her, and she's survived being shot at in a dark ally while simultaneously taking down the head drug lord. Can you relate to that? Yeah, neither can I.

2) Don't make them too imperfect: Sounds confusing, I know! Let me clarify. When you have some one who has faults, that's good! But if they're one big massive fault then it's no fun to read. In fact, it's kind of a downer. Like sitting next to the Emo kid who hates everything about their life and wants to do everything in their power to make sure they stay that way (even unconsciously). If you have a character whose angry all the time and has a short temper and genuinely hates people and that's all he/she is? That's boring too. Most people can't relate to them if there's nothing in them that's willing to change. They just stay angry, or sad, or whatever. And that's boring too.

3) Make them multifaceted: Excuse me? I hear you say. Make them 'multifaceted'? What, you mean like a diamond? I ain't writin' no X-Men character, yo! It's a word that you'll see thrown around a lot in the writing (or acting, even!) world. It means make them be more than just one thing. Make them be more than hero. Make them be more than villian. Only good, only bad. Life is about gray friends. What makes good characters (even of the super hero variety) is their flaws and the fact that they aren't just wholly one thing or the other. Everyone (even heroes) has faults and problems. That super hero? Maybe they have depression. Maybe by day they're a kleptomaniac. Whatever. The point is, when they have flaws we as humans relate more. We're not perfect and we hate it when others are too. Sorry. We humans are kinda jerks.

4) Write something only you as the writer will know about them: I read this somewhere on the internet (I'm sorry, props to whoever wrote this advice!) and love it! It actually helps a lot! When you feel your character is too flat (aka only has one personality trait going for them. Hi, Amber.) write a couple of things know one would ever know. Maybe perfect cheerleader Amber lost her grandmother in a snow skiing accident and she blames herself. It helps you connect to your character and might help break out the flat feeling. No one wants to read about a cracker, guys. Except cracker addicts. But that's not who you're writing for.

5) Have a conversation with your characters: This was the first piece of advice I was given when I first starting writing fan fiction at the tender age of 11 (don't judge me!). It's still one of the best pieces of advice I can give you today. It really does help. You can go on the internet and find a list of questions to ask your characters. Or, you can act AS your character and answer the questions as your character. That's what I do, even to this day when I'm stuck. It's literally helped me figure out my character's personality and true motives when I was really suck and found them to be too cracker-flat.

BONUS TIP: Please, please, please for the love of all the coffee and tea in the world, watch how your characters speak! Don't fear the squiggly red line in Word that says you're spelling something wrong if your character has an accent or speaks in slang. Use slang. Use Ebonics. Use whatever! If your character has an accent, USE IT. And I realize we can't like, write how we like, talk all the time. Because then we'd have way too many 'likes' (and not in the thumbs up way.). But don't let your teenager talk like a 25 year old giving out expert life advice. I've read too many books where the teens say things like "gosh," "darn," and "shoot". C'mon. You know they don't talk like that. YOU KNOW IT. So don't do it.

  So there you have it, 5 character building tips! I hope they helped! If you have any advice on what you do to build characters, please comment below! Writers need all the tips (money or otherwise!) that we can get! How do you write your  characters? What do you do when you find them too flat? Let us know!

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