We all know character sheets, you can find many of them on the internet. Short or long, they guarantee you to build full fletched multi layered characters by developing all the details of their lives.
While it is a good start when developing a new story, I think it’s often not enough to connect with all my main characters and offer them the interesting story they deserve.
Here are 4 exercises I do during the character design phase that help me connect with my characters and find their voices.
The dream : I try to find out what they want, what they dream about, what will give them the energy to rise and fight for what they want or believe. That dream is the key the story, what will give them motivation to act and put themselves in danger. It has to be something powerful and universal enough to intrigue and engage the reader.
Voice Diary/ The interview : I ask questions to my characters and write down their answers in a word file.Surprises and interesting twists happen. When I’m relaxed enough I just “listen” to the character’s voice. This way, you character will tell you a lot of things.
Writing a letter : They spoke to me, now It’s time I spoke to them, hence the letter. I tell them everything I intend to give them in the story. Think of it like a job application letter in which you tell your future boss what’ll you’ll do for him. Thinking of your main characters as real persons with a potential interest to appear in your story will help you treat them better, offer them nice entrances in the text, nice exit if need might be, beautiful scenes. Be eloquent enough to get the job.
Free writing : Once I have done all the 3 previous steps, I start writing scenes with my character and others from the same story. It helps me define their dynamic and narrow down their speech pattern : long or short sentences…imperative ? descriptive ?How do they move, how do they talk.
This is my learning curve, the warm up before jumping in the manuscript. I have written many of these little snippets of texts over the last two months in order to prepare for NaNoWriMo.
This post is an answer to today’s assignment in Writing 101 course : Mine your own material. I was inspired by my post Dear villain in my novel