Fragments of Character

Today’s Playlist:
Give You Hell – All-American Rejects
Son’s Gonna Rise – Citizen Cope
Fully Alive – Flyleaf
Nobody Knows – Keaton Simons
Solar Midnight – Lupe Fiasco 

I feel as if one of my gifts as a writer is creating vivid, strong characters. Maybe it’s a talent from acting. As an actress, when you take on a new role, you must create a background for the character. Sometimes/most of the time, you aren’t given the background, just the basics, and from the words in the script, you must create the entire character. 

Creating realistic characters begins with the basics, who are they now and how did they get that way? What events happened at a younger age that caused them to react the way they do?

I like to create a list of traits the character has, as it helps develop their personality. I ask myself the following questions: 

  1. Who is you hero, the one the audience is rooting for through the entire story? And what is his/her role (student, cop, teacher, etc)
  2. Why will the reader empathize with your character?
    1. You must make the reader feel for the character, make them likeable—if the reader doesn’t like your character, they wont continue reading the story.
    2. Put them in jeopardy.
    3. Create sympathy. Was he/she picked on, did her parent recently pass away, is she always the friend, never the girlfriend, is she constantly picked on? Etc, there are many ways to do this.
    4. Make her/him funny or powerful. Make them good at whatever they do. The reader likes to see the hero succeed even if the rest of their world is falling apart, they must have something they are good at.
  3. What does you hero like to do? What music does she/he listen to? What TV shows would she/he watch?
  4. Think of physical traits she has as well. When she walks does she stand up straight, hunch over, slouch? If she is very proper, was she brought up in a strict household, or were her parents, if any, very leant? Think of ever detail, because each detail of her/his life will help mold the character. If she/he was raised by one parent, that will put a new spin on her/his outcome in life.
  5. What is the SETUP of the story? Where is your hero when she/he’s introduced, before the forward movement of the story begins?
    1. It’s very important to show your hero in their normal life, before everything begins to unravel, but don’t give too much away. Make sure to leave room for their past to creep in, if that fits into the plot of course.
  6. What OPPORTUNITY is presented to your hero?
    1. What series of events happens that brings her/him to the opportunity that arises? Think it through, and make sure you know, that way it stays constant throughout the story, and it is clear to reader—“that’s when everything changed”.   
  7. What is your hero’s OUTER MOTIVATION?
    1. What’s you hero’s reasoning for doing what she is doing? What happened that brought your hero there, and what is keeping her/him doing forward on this path?  
  8. What are we rooting for?
    1. Is it for two people to fall in love? Win the big game? Win a case? Get the kids, divorce, battle? It follows in congruence with the outer motivation sometimes.
  9. What’s the CONFLICT?
  10. What is your hero’s ARC?
    1. This is a long one, and I will touch on this in another blog. characters’’ begin the story with a certain viewpoint and, through events in the story, that viewpoint changes
  11. What deeper ISSUES does the story explore?
    1. Was the hero abandoned, abused, ignored at a young age? What happened in their life that created who they are now? Are they recovering from a death, depression, etc?
  12. What is your PASSION for this story?
    1. Think about this. Why do you love your hero, and the surrounding characters and storyline? If you don’t have a passion for what you are writing, you will not be able to write it well. Make sure you love it, and you aren’t writing just to write. 

I hope this helped. Tomorrow, we will touch on Identities and Desires!

Writing Tip #1:
For music motivated writers, creating a strong playlist will help put you in the mood for writing the difficult scenes. If you are having a hard time getting in a certain frame of mind, create a list of songs to list to that will bring you to that place, lie down, close your eyes and imagine the world coming to life. Let the words come to you.   

Angela Francis


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