When I first began writing fiction it felt like all of the characters were me. Of course, all characters come from someplace deep in our psyche, but when I had a character who sounded, acted, talked and believed like me, I was BORED. I have great self-esteem and lots of people love me, but really I am BORING. At least to myself. And a character exactly like me doesn’t intrigue me enough to sustain a whole novel, hence–for a long time–many, many unfinished novels.
I’ve had to find a way to go deeper–to unpack why a character may think and act the way they do, and then write that character from the INSIDE. Ironically, this has led to a lot of self-discovery, as I get into the mind of the character the way an actor would.
Are you are suffering from Bored Writer Syndrome? Ready to think hard? Here’s a place you might start.
What is Your Character’s Philosophy? What are their underlying beliefs about life? Are they hopeful about life or pessimistic? Do unforeseen events have a purpose or are they just random? Do they believe in revenge? Forgiveness? Do they want to champion the rights of others? Do they have a religious or political ideal that guides their life? How close are their ideals to those of their family and/or friends? If they are quite different, why?
What is Your Character’s Self-Perception? How do they see themself? Do they have a source of power? Do they see themself as a victim? Do they believe they are worthy or unworthy? What are they afraid of? What topic would they rather not touch? What do they see as their role in the family? Among their friends? In the community? In the universe?
We’ll explore more about characters with things like character interviews, story journaling, talking to our characters on the page, and unpacking how other authors develop their characters in Cultivating Complex Characters. Come join us!