Hello, everyone. My sincerest apologies for falling by the blogging wayside. Life has been crazy and many changes have taken place, not to mention I published my first book. THAT alone is a full-time job, especially for a self-pubber.
Before I go into what this post is really about, I want to thank every one of you who has been so supportive of The Mirror Stage. Whether you’ve bought the book, reviewed it, or helped spread the word about it, thank you. As someone who is not only writing the books but also publishing and marketing them, I will never make it without the help and kind words of those who have fallen in love with The Mirror Stage as much as I have. Every time I read a review or talk to someone who has read the book, I get just a little bit giddier (is that even a word?) inside and my drive to keep writing gets a little bit stronger. I love sharing this story with all of you, and I love that you’re enjoying the ride right along with me.
So, let’s get into what this post is about.
Arguably, the most important part of not just a book but a story in general is the characters. Without them, a story is just a bunch of descriptions of places and events. Boring. So when you’re first conceptualizing a story, one of your first steps is to create the people or beings who will really bring it to life.
When I started working on The Mirror Stage in grad school, we had to create a character bio for our story’s protagonist and antagonist. At first I absolutely hated the idea of this assignment. It seemed petty and completely pointless. Now, I’ll never write a story without them. It’s amazing what figuring out where your character would buy groceries will do for your characterization skill level. Taking the time to draft a biography for your character, along with characteristics and personality type, will take a two dimensional idea and turn it into a three dimensional person.
Ada Brandt was the first character I really dug into. To me, it made sense to really perfect the protagonist before I got into the rest of the characters. I’m a very visual person, so I almost immediately had a mental picture of who she was. I dissected that mental image into character chunks. Personality type. Fashion sense. Eating habits. Quirks. Likes. Dislikes. The list goes on.
Inevitably, you will naturally gravitate toward creating a character that is either a mirror image of yourself or someone you know. Subconsciously, this is a comfort zone for your creativity. You know yourself. You know your family and friends. You’ve absorbed the details that make them who they are, and you obviously know yourself inside and out. As a writer, you have to push yourself past this. Don’t write you or your best friend. Take parts of yourself or someone else that you really feel strongly about, and then venture out and pull in elements that you might not be as familiar with. This will push you to research and experiment, which will lead you to create stronger characters you will be proud to put your name with.
So what are some tools you can use to create stellar characters? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here’s a short list of some of my tried-and-true avenues for fleshing out (pun somewhat intended) my characters.
- Personality tests, like Myers-Briggs. Take the test like you were the character. It’s crazy how much this will help you.
- Pinterest. Again, go onto Pinterest like you’re the character you’re working on and just start browsing and pinning. This is also a great tool to pick an actual face or person to physically manifest the character. Even if no one ever sees who you pick, you know who you’ve chosen and this will potentially help you write a convincing character.
- Watch your favorite movies or TV shows. Much like choosing the genre you’re going to write in, creating a character that you yourself would connect with will make your writing that much stronger. Critically watch movies or TV shows and identify what you like and don’t about your favorite character(s). Then see which of these characteristics will seamlessly work into your character.
- Map out a typical day in the life of your character. This was part of the Character Development class that I took in grad school, and it was pretty beneficial to me in really getting into my character’s head. It might seem tedious, but just give it a shot.
Do you have any tricks or tips to creating characters you really love? Let me know in a comment below!