Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Is It Okay to Talk to Your Fictional Characters?

I find that if I know my characters well before I start writing my novel, I’m less likely to develop writer’s block. For that reason, I spend a good deal of time developing my characters before I ever start writing the book, or before I develop the plot.

Every story has a main character. The main character is usually the good guy, or the protagonist. The main character is always dynamic. Throughout the course of the story, the main character will change. Either their personality will evolve, their career path, or purpose in life will become clear. Whatever the story, at the end of the novel, the main character will not be the same person he or she was at the beginning.

In order to conceptualize this change, I want to know everything about my main character. More importantly, I need to like her. Most of my stories feature bright, capable young women who reach beyond their fears and limitations to achieve something great. That means my main character is a heroine, changed by some event that she could not have anticipated.

I start with a detailed character sketch. I ask the questions, what is/are…

·                     Her name, and/or nickname,

·                     Her physical appearance,

·                     Her family, or who lives with her, including pets

·                     Her closest friends and her mentor,

·                     Her love interest (if any),

·                     Her worst enemy,

·                     Her personality traits, i.e. introvert/extrovert, quirks, assumptions, secrets, regrets, weaknesses, vices and past trauma,

·                     Her goals, dreams and fears,

·                     Her special skills or innate abilities,

·                     Her religion or moral values,

·                     Her likes and dislikes, i.e., favorite color, food, music, etc., and

·                     Her most significant childhood memory, and character changing events in life so far.

How do I find out the answers to these questions? I ask her. So yes, it is okay to talk to your fictional characters, provided they don’t really talk back. After all, as Hermione said, “Hearing voices is never a good thing.”

Good luck getting to know your main character. In the next post, I’ll discuss how a character changes over the course of the story and how to develop that change as part of your character sketch.
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