writing

Creating Lovable Characters~ Tips From The Inexperienced Farmgirl

Ok so I am inexperienced. I have been writing on the same novel for nearly 4 years now. (it’s so close to being done!) I have written several short stories and have them sitting in my room waiting to be edited so I can publish. I even have art for some of them. But what I do know is what makes a good character. My characters may not be good–yet, but I think I still understand the basic concept of a loveable character.

Your character must awe. They must inspire. They have to spark something in you that makes you want to be them, even if it is only once. And most of all, they have to live. Of course there are many loveable characters that die in fiction but where is the fun in that? At least you can have them fake their deaths or something but they have to live. Otherwhise where is the good? You have wasted a perfectly good chapter on a perfectly good character who could grow to be the favorite character for millions of people. Like, Gandalf for instance. He almost died but came back and is yet pleasing everyone’s brains that he is alive, well, and Gandalf. Gandalf awed. Gandalf sparked something in us and made us want to be him for just a moment at least. He inspired. He left an impression. (there is no other character that I know who is like Gandalf.)  He is a good character. He is loveable. Lord of The Rings wouldn’t be the same without him.

So how do you create a loveable character? What comes first?

My first and foremost tip is to describe your best friend. Take their attributes and quirks and mold it into a character. Write for that character what you think your friend would say. See what happens.

Another idea is to pick a random person that you see often. You don’t know them but they are always around. It could be the homeless guy who walks by that store every Tuesday. Or it could be that lady who walks her dogs by your house everyday. They are real people, you just don’t know them. What do they look like? How do they walk? Do they carry anything special? Write about it. Create a character who is real, who already exists but change them to fit in your world.

Draw a picture of the character in your mind’s eye. Even if it looks bad just keep drawing. Describe their clothing, hair color, eye color, and build. What do they sound like? Write down their voice type; Deep, light, airy, bubbly, etc. Do they have a favorite food? Book? Animal? Color? Are they mean, saucy, kind, sweet, shy, or bossy? Are they a leader? Are they good or evil? Write it out to organize your thoughts. Refer to your character profile as often as you describe the character.

Flaw. Your character has to have a flaw somewhere. We all do. If they don’t make mistakes, then they are un relatable. We all make mistakes so have your character make some mistakes too.

Trust. Is your character trustworthy? Are they liars? Do they learn to stop lying? Are they always honest?

Find a song that describes your character. Music says things that words can’t always describe. But if you have a general idea of how your character should act, pick their theme song. Search for one that tells every aspect of their character.

Next, find your theme song. What song describes you? (instrumental songs work best. Find movie background music, violin or cello concertos, or any other instrumentals.) Finding your theme song might make finding your character’s theme song easier.

Colors! What one color describes your character? Scribble the color in pencil or marker by your character profile.

Props. What does your character carry with them everywhere? A pocketknife, sword, bow, journal, pen, food, etc. Write it down by your character profile.

Quirks. What one quirk makes your character so special from all others? Do they immediately start making  “baby cooing sounds” every time they see an adorable animal? Are they constantly making puns about stuff? Are they always eating, even when they are fleeing from danger? Be creative and find a quirk about your character.

Romance. Does your character have an imaginary romance in their head? A made up scene that they hope will one day play out? Example: “Cara always dreamed she would be found by her future husband while singing in a forest on a stone bridge over a peaceful brook. She had a secret wish that it would come true.”        Add your own version to the profile if you wish.

Scene. What is the one scene you imagine your character to be in when you first find them? Where are they? In a magical forest? in the city? Alone on the green meadows? Draw a picture of that place and write about it.

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Lastly, incorporate the things about your character into your story. Make lots of profiles about your characters and look on them often to make sure you are staying on track. Pretty soon, you should have a good lovable character. And whenever your fans want a complete profile, you have one.

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