The Character Series Part 5/5: Character Beyond the Internal

The Character Series Part 5/5: Characters Beyond the Internal

 

 

VISUAL TRAITS AND TAGS

You are wondering what a Visual Tag (VT) is. A VT is a visual thing that you identify with the character. It could be a nervous tick such as an eye twitch or a swagger or how they wear their hat a certain way or even how they walk around with their shoes untied with short laces.  The VT gives a distinction to the character and should enhance the connection and description of the character and serve a purpose. For me, the shoelaces would be for a younger person who is perhaps attempting to be cool or unique or trying to fit in with a certain crowd.

Dialogue Tags are things most writers now about, but don’t often consider being character related.  We think of them as he said or she said. But there are affectations a character may have that you can mention, or how they whistle on certain letters or cannot pronounce certain words or letters properly. Once established you don’t overuse the tag any longer.

 

DIALOGUE: BOTH VOICE AND PHYSICAL

Dialogue is the key to your characters and often times the accepting or rejecting of your novel to be signed. I’ll get into Dialogue in another series because it is such a large subject but how one speaks externally and internally tells you everything you need to know about a character. Dialogue tends to be my stronger point, or so I believe, while I need to focus on a lot of the external and sensory things. Dialogue cannot be the book but it is a huge part of the book.

 

Body Language is something we forget about. The tension in how someone holds their shoulders drawn up so tight that they almost reach their ears.

 

PERFORM

What is another way to know a character? You need to see them in action. Seeing them react in certain situations and those reactions staying within character you have created. It’s an interesting thought but think of someone like Mr. T as B.A. on A-Team. Quiet for the most part, but his actions said enough. A tough guy with a heart. You didn’t really need any words. And it isn’t just action heroes this works with. You need to have the tender moments shown by the characters as well. Even a man on the witness stand at a murder trial has action.


Part 1: Creating Character Names

Part 2: What to Avoid when Creating Character

Part 3: Giving Your Characters Their Character

Part 4: Creating Believable Characters

 

 2014 © Copyright-All rights reserved-RonovanWrites.wordpress.com

The Character Series Part 4/5: Creating Believable Characters

The Character Series Part 4/5: Creating Believable Characters

 

STAY WITHIN CHARACTER

Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird was a noble and honorable man. Imagine if you will if you saw him drunk and groping a waitress who was saying no.

I don’t think you would have the same respect for him. I know I wouldn’t. A character, good or bad, needs to stay in the character that you led the reader to believe he or she was unless you have a very good reason for a surprise change. Sure characters have a change of heart in the end, but perhaps there at some point along the way needs to be a glimmer, a hint of something in them.

 

BALANCE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE

No character is usually completely perfectly good or bad in the aspects of either just morals or perhaps self-control or habits. To make one so is unbelievable.

I have a character in a Romance/Love story I’ve written, a trilogy. He’s the hero type. Almost perfect. But he does have flaws in him that show up if you are paying attention and realize it. The story is told from the viewpoint and voice of the woman. We see and hear what she does, but we interpret what she sees and hears differently. His flaws aren’t exactly negative, but they are to some extent.

 

PROBLEMS READERS CAN RELATE TO

Playing off the character above, you need to have problems the readers can relate to. The character above is in love with the woman but she’s engaged, and his problem is being in love with a woman younger than he is and trying to be a good man when he really wants so badly to tell her the truth. But he believes if he does then he is a bad man, and he always promised he would be a good man like his father.

I think we have all been in a situation where we like someone that is already spoken for and we can relate to how much that hurts. You instantly want to root for this man.

 

There are so many things that go into creating a character that it’s really the most difficult part for me. Writing a story, the idea is easy for me. Nailing down all of this is the hard part. But once you do it then things are so much smoother going.


Part 1: Creating Character Names

Part 2: Things to Avoid when Creating Characters

Part 3: Giving Your Characters Their Character

Part 5: Character Beyond the Internal

 

 2014 © Copyright-All rights reserved-RonovanWrites.wordpress.com

The Character Series Part 3/5: Giving Your Characters Their Character

The Character Series Part 3/5: Giving Your Characters Their Character

 

 

CONTRASTING CHARACTERS

What if Batman and the Joker were exactly the same? What if Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler were exactly the same? it wouldn’t be very interesting. What’s the fun in two competing characters that are the same? There is no conflict, you have no idea who to choose.

When you create the protagonist and the protagonist . . . give them contrasting characteristics that are obvious to the reader even if they aren’t to the heroine or hero.

 

LOVE AND HATE

To go along with Contrasting Characters you need to have one for the reader to love and one for the reader to hate. Again you have Batman and Joker. In Gone with the Wind, who or what was the antagonist? Something to think about. Was it the Yankees, the carpetbaggers, the scalawags, the old guard South, or was it even perhaps Scarlett?  Could it have been a mindset, ignorance? Yes, there are more characters than just living, breathing things, but let’s not get into that now.

 

SENSE OF PURPOSE

No matter how much you want your reader to love a character or hate a character those characters have to have a sense of purpose to be characters. Just existing will not work. Batman wants to rid the world of crime. Joker wants to maybe just rid the world of the world. But what makes the two long-lasting and beloved characters is that they continue to have a sense of purpose and the purpose is something people can identify with on some level, no matter how fantastic it may be.

 

Creating a character that is lasting, memorable, and connects with a reader is more involved than we think. Groundwork in the beginning not only makes the characters memorable for you, but it makes for easy writing as you will know the characters so well.


Part 1: Creating Character Names

Part 2: Things to Avoid when Creating Characters

Part 4: Creating Believable Characters

Part 5: Character Beyond the Internal

 

 

 2014 © Copyright-All rights reserved-RonovanWrites.wordpress.com

The Character Series Part 2/5: Things to Avoid When Creating Characters

The Character Series Part 2/5: Things to Avoid When Creating Characters

 

 

CHARACTER CLUTTER

Cut down on the number of characters you have by having one character take on the roles of others. You don’t need your heroine to have five girlfriends that keep appearing. One girlfriend is enough with two at the most. Make it simple for the reader in regards to characters to remember. Put their focus on the story and the main characters, and make it easy on yourself as well. The fewer the characters the easier it is for you to have to remember while writing.

I have a Romance/Love story novel where the leading lady meets up with her high school team for lunch. In this case, it’s okay to have several characters, but not as recurring characters. Maybe two or three show up again.

 

SIMILAR CHARACTERS

Along with Character Clutter, you have characters that are basically the same. You don’t need that unless it is specific to something in the storyline. When I read Gone with the Wind there are a few too many characters in the beginning for my liking, but slowly it dwindles then it picks again to similar characters in Atlanta. Yes, there is a party in the beginning so I get it, but it is still a touch difficult to keep up with at the party itself. In Atlanta, there are the matriarchs of society that are almost impossible to keep up with. They all become a blur, and perhaps that is part of the story. They are all the same. Scarlet is different and Belle Watling is different and that is why you remember them.

 

METAPHORS AND SIMILIES

You have the characters and you need to describe them. Be original.

 

A simile is when you describe something in comparison to something else.

Her skin was as pure as the white of a Magnolia petal.

 

A metaphor is when you say something is something, you transfer the characteristics onto the person.

Her lips were sweet red berries and he needed to taste them at least one time.

 

One very important thing to remember. Don’t do the literary version of the mistakes people look for in time period movies. The digital watch on the Civil War soldier. Make sure when you metaphor or simile that you keep in mind what you are using and the words you are using, they need to be time period applicable.


Part 1: Creating Character Names

Part 3: Giving Your Characters Their Character

Part 4: Creating Believable Characters

Part 5: Character Beyond the Internal

Much Respect

Ronovan

 

 2014 © Copyright-All rights reserved-RonovanWrites.wordpress.com

The Character Series Part 1/5: Creating Character Names

The Character Series Part 1/5: Creating Character Names

You have a great story idea then you begin to write and you come to that moment . . . what is the name of the primary protagonist? The problem continues as you come to each character thereafter, including secondary and incidental characters. It’s a bear of a problem even if you don’t think so right now. You may even have written the novel and now realize you have name problems.

Following are some things to consider when naming characters:

 

CORRECT NAME FOR THE TIME PERIOD

There are a lot of names that can be used in present-day novels because people are becoming creative or retro in naming their children. However, when writing one easy way to help immediately let a reader know if your story is in the present-day or in the past is by the names you choose to use.

Example 1

Khloe looked out over the sloping green lawn down to the path below. Would he be there this morning . . . as every morning? Would Jayden ignore her father and still pass by regardless of the threats? Did he love her that much?

Think for a moment what time period these names bring to mind.

Example 2

Mildred looked out over the sloping green lawn down to the path below. Would he be there this morning . . . as every morning? Would Edgar ignore her father and still pass by regardless of the threats? Did he love her that much?

 

The First example includes popular names for 2014, while the last includes names from the early 1900s. Even not knowing this information you would know the first should be set in modern-day by the names, they are not names to fit into The Great Gatsby. And Mildred and Edgar are not common names these days. Sure you could use them in a modern setting but just keep in mind how easy simply choosing names will help in having to not explain a lot more in your writing about the time, era your story is set in.

 

REGIONAL NAMES

We talked about using names to help set the general time period of a story, now how about the place, the region, or country? In the United States names are slowly mingling but on the whole, you can use names that will give the reader a feel for where you are headed.

 

Missy looked out over the sloping green lawn down to the path below. Would he be there this morning . . . as every morning? Would Billy ignore her father and still pass by regardless of the threats? Did he love her that much?

I get a rural feel from the above names. More than likely in the south.

 

Khloe looked out over the sloping green lawn down to the path below. Would he be there this morning . . . as every morning? Would Jayden ignore her father and still pass by regardless of the threats? Did he love her that much?

This pairing gives me a feel or the urban, probably a larger city as well.

 

I know, all of you could and are coming up with better examples than I am but you get the point.

 

BE ORIGINAL

When you do create names, even Regional ones, be original. You don’t have to go with Billy Bob to let people know the man lives in the South. Beau is a Southern name and so is Luke. One of those is a little stereotypical and the other less so. It is all up to you how you want to do it, maybe Beau is the name you want to use and it fits somehow. You want the name to stand out but also to be comfortable for the reader to say. Make sure to say the name out loud while using it in a sentence. I like the name to feel good coming off my tongue.

 

AVOID GENDER CONFUSION

If you really want to mess with your readers’ minds then use names that can be either male or female. As the years pass by this is becoming more of a thing. If you say Logan one may think of Wolverine the superhero or they may think of the little girl that was best buddies with their son in preschool and he pushed her in her little walker thing in between two baby beds and said “Bye-bye” as he looked around and saw his parents had arrived. Ashley and Paris are two other examples as well as Sandy.  Add Morgan to that as well.

Don’t cause confusion to your readers. Make them comfortable as quickly as possible. You don’t want them to even have to think about gender, you want them falling into the story.

 

NOT THE SAME LETTER

Don’t have your main characters all having names starting with the same letter. You want distinction for them quickly and no confusion with any other character, especially a protagonist and antagonist.


Next:

Part 2: Things to Avoid when Creating Characters

Part 3: Giving Your Characters Their Character

Part 4: Creating Believable Characters

Part 5: Character Beyond the Internal

Until Next Time,

Much Respect

Ronovan

 2014 © Copyright-All rights reserved-RonovanWrites.wordpress.com

Writing Tip: Observation Lounge

Writing Tip: Observation Lounge

by: Ronovan

 

Being stuck in an airport terminal without any electronic devices probably seems like sheer…bad places…to some people. For me, I see it as opportunity to hone a craft.

Aiport Terminal Waiting

Airports are crossroads of the world, culture, society. If you really think about it, the only electronic device you might even want to use is some recording device.

 

I would use a delay of say 6 hours to listen to conversations and jot down phrases that just capture a moment. Also writing down a visual scene in detail including the emotions it brings out would be great for my writing journal.

 

Writers always look for descriptions of so many things in their work; people, clothing, hair, jewelry, sounds, even smells. A six hour workshop on observation of imagery would be something we all could use.

 

In truth we could do this intentionally by going any place that has a fairly large gathering of people; a park, a mall, and even a grocery store. There are little interactions between people you can mention in writing that makes for a connection to the reader that you just take for granted in everyday life.

Inspired from a prompt from The Daily Post.

© Copyright-All rights reserved-RonovanWrites.wordpress.com-June 10, 2014.