“Characters are one element of writing you can’t live without.” This quote comes directly from Ralph Fletcher’s book, Live Writing. He doesn’t specialize in any one particular form of writing, but rather enjoys the pleasures and challenges of many forms. Teachers of writing have looked to Mr. Fletcher for guidance, inspiration, and compassion. I hope you will be inspired to build your own characters.
1. Get the ideas for your characters from people you already know. Have your eyes open at all times and keep what fascinates you in a safe place. You never know when you may need a new character idea!
2. Give the reader a mental image of your characters. Using all five senses to describe characters is a sure-fire way to conjure up colorful mind pictures.
3. Keep your characters moving! Describing motions and gestures are helpful ways to get inside of the character’s mind.
4. Make sure they’re talking. Focus on how something is said versus just what is said. More will be revealed! But be careful not to get carried away with too much dialogue. You don’t want your text sounding like a play.
5. Stay away from the “good guys” and “bad guys”. In real life, we tend to be a mixture of both. Revealing a little bit of bad in the good, and good in the bad makes for a more enticing piece. And don’t forget to name your characters, names that suggests their personality.
6. Keep the number of characters manageable. Too many will definitely confuse you and ultimately the reader!
Like a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, you may need to experiment with what works best for you. Add, delete and modify to your taste!