Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Writing tips on creating characters by Johnny Ray

After you have the basic idea of what you want to write, it is time to select your characters. There are many ways to do this and I know many authors do it differently. I think all great writers agree that however you select them, you have to know them inside and out. This means knowing not only what makes them great but what their limitations are as well. I use a system where I actually interview the characters I want to use. I develop a full file on them. Do the characters change during the novel? Yes, I learn more about them over time. But as I do, I always go back to their file and update it. I post these files at the front of my novel so that it is always in front of me. Hopefully a great name comes to me that highlights who the character is. If not, I use the best I can think of. It is easy to change the name later. I also look for a photo that gives me a visual image of my character. This also gets posted on the front of my manuscript.

There have been times, I go to a public place and find someone close to what I envision my character to be like. Then, I make notes of all of the movements and quirks that person makes. Sometimes, I use actors or actress. It is good to watch a film they made and notice certain habits they have and the unique way they talk.

To make the characters believable, it is the authors job to breathe life into them. I know it is hard to understand unless you are a writer, but some characters become more real than people living and breathing around you.

It is interesting to see how other writers create their characters and look forward to hearing from them. Also,it is interesting to hear from readers on what they think makes a great character in a book.

Johnny Ray


Anonymous said...

I too have to develop entire histories for my characters. Things that will never be put in the book, but help me understand them and their motivations throughout the story.
My characters, good or bad, become a living, breathing part of my life. Some keep me up late into the night pestering me with the things they want to do.

Juanita said...

This is a method of character development that I have not heard of before. I am going to give this a try. I would guess you have to be really observant to get the feeling of someone as a character and to be able to imagine that person in a situation that IRL they may never get into.