Fourteen Pgs. of Character Notes…And Writing Tips for Detailing Characters!

Fourteen pages of character notes. Wow. I don’t know how that happened but I’m glad it did.

I always try to give as much depth and detail to my characters as I can. I believe that the more I invest in a character, the more attached I will become and that attachment is what makes that character seem more real (that’s a lot of mores). Its great because my characters go from being an idea to becoming like a close, life-long friend (until you know…that scene where they get silenced by the pen aka they die).

It’s a fun process honestly, even though I’ll admit it takes time. Despite the time it takes to do it is a lot more fun than just naming a character and throwing them into your story. A name is only a fraction of a person, there are many other things that make us who we are.

A lot of the time I like to draw pictures of my characters: the facial expressions they might make in different scenario’s, what clothing they might wear, what their hair looks like, their height, the colour of their eyes.

It can be really helpful, but of course I know that not everyone likes to draw. What I used to do on my drawings was create a list beside my character. The list usually looked like…

  1. Name: Bob Robert Bobbinlee
  2. Age: 22
  3. Likes: cows, cats, cookies and cake
  4. Dislikes: anything that doesn’t start with the letter C (is for cookie)
  5. Family: Mama Bobbetta, Father Bobert, Juliettabobo Boblee, Bobafett
  6. Friends: Cookie Monster, Elmo, Pinkie Pie and Ash Ketchum (yes I was talking to my 4 year old niece recently…any watching Pokémon)

What I’ve begun doing now is creating this same list in a table on Microsoft word.

Its pretty easy to do, you just go to insert, then click table…etc.

So now I keep my images and my charts separate, giving me more room to add written details about my characters. This is especially helpful when I have side characters. Usually I don’t know the personality of a side character. Some times I might just have some character who until named is called “Book Store Clerk.” The first thing I like to do is to draw this character out (or imagine what they might look like), then I take that image and I create a detailed character chart, similar to the list above but in chart form…and because it isn’t on the same page as my drawing I can add even more detail.

Using the same example from above:

Name Bob Robert Bobbinlee
Age 22
Appearance Hair: Crimson

Eyes: Crimson

Height: Average

Special Features: Tattoo of the letter C

Personality Hot-headed, sweet-tooth, perfectionist, crazy about cats and cows, creative, incredible cook
Family Mother: Bobbetta

Father: Bobert

Siblings: Juliettabobo, Boblee and Bobafett

Friends Cookie Monster, Elmo, Pinkie Pie and Ash Ketchum

 

Partner (or partners for them playa’s) Cloe Ver
Pet Cactus the Cat and Carver the Cow
Hobbies Reading, eating and baking cookies and cake, chillin’ like a villain with his squad…I mean crew.

 

Occupation/Education Book Store Clerk

 

Fears The letter Z…because he isn’t sure if it should be Zed or Zee even though he’s Canadian. He just…doesn’t know.

 

Dreams Publish a Children’s Cook Book

See, its that simple, and even though some of these details won’t end up being in you story, they are details that are significant to who your character really is. Once you know this much about your character they begin to take on a life of their own, and as an author I have to say that is one of my favourite things that happen while I’m writing.

Whether you like to draw or not, this is a method that I highly recommend. It’s easy to set up and once you get going it can be a lot of fun. Before you know it you’ve got fourteen pages of characters and this amazingly long chart!

Also, if you are a tech-savvy person you can even scan a drawing of your character and place the image into the appearance box on the table. I’ve never done this but I’m definitely going to give it a try. The idea just came to mind.


 

I hope that this post was helpful!

If you’ve never tried to do this sort of detailing with your characters I highly recommend it. Its both fun and rewarding.

If you have any different ways of detailing and developing characters (or you’ve written a post with another writing tip) feel free to share in the comment section. I’m sure, myself and many people would appreciate it!

Happy writing everyone!

— R.

 

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Writing Update

The other day I added some more to my novel and also decided to just go through and read some chapters. I started somewhere around the middle and was sucked into the story. To me this is a good sign. It means that I’ve done my job. The next test would be to have someone else read it but that won’t happen until I’ve typed it up. I write everything by hand first. I find that I can truly get involved with my work when my pencil and I do our usual dance.

I’ve decided that my goal this year is to work on my novel once a week. I don’t want to fall back into the bad habit of only writing when I’m in the mood. Especially since last year I was never in a “writing mood”…which is something that has never happened before. Although I do know the cause of it and I won’t allow it to happen again. Now I’m going to discipline myself in order to keep my characters hearts beating. I know that if I don’t finish their story, they’ll die. If my characters are to die, it will be by my pen and not by being left to rot in the unfilled pages of my binder.

— R

 

 

 

I think I miss my family now…

Ugh…I never should’ve watched these clips from kids movies.

Oh well. Gonna see everyone for my mom’s 50th. I’d better get some sleep. I’ll finish my random video watching…colouring…thing later.

I was colouring some pictures I drew of character’s I forgot I made. I didn’t realize that I’d started a really good novel a few years back. I’m shocked at how well it was written. It’s a huge step up from my first few novels. I wish my sister didn’t talk me out of writing that one. She said the introduction was too dark.

She doesn’t like it whenever people die in my stories and I describe their like…deadness.

I should seriously share more drawing on here. I should also sleep now because…I don’t want my professor calling me out because I’m asleep in his class. I was late for the first one because I went to the wrong class and then I lost my keys and…it was a really bad day. So this week I’m going to show up on time and I’ll be all smart and actually try to contribute. I guess being in a class with upper years is a little intimidating at times. Wow…I’m really tired.

Who wants to clean the pencil crayons off my bed for me? I’ll give you peach flavoured juice….and a twizzler.

Alright…I’ll stop being lazy.

— R.

Writing Tip: Character Backgrounds

Sometimes I like to create extremely detailed backgrounds for my characters. Though I don’t go into as much detail as I did with my very first novel, I still put a lot of work into making my characters “come to life.”

For my first novel I went through things such as my characters favourite colours, the foods they liked to eat, their family members, their pets (if they had any), their preferred styles of clothing, their favourite genres…etc. I gave them birthdays (I even celebrated them), and full names and talked about them to my family and friends as though they were actual people. Sometimes I would go through my day pretending to be them in certain situations (I don’t recommend this…unless you want to be more confident playing basketball).

The amount of work I put into that novel (which became a 6 book series) was…well it was fun but it did distract me from things like school and that wasn’t okay. Plus some of the stuff was a little…let’s just say much. I was only thirteen then, and I didn’t have a laptop or a cellphone so…I had spare time to be imaginative.

Anyway, now instead of writing out complete profiles for characters, I only write out things that are of extreme importance to me. Things that have an effect on the story and my characters progression throughout. It still takes work, and it still takes time but it is worth it. Trust me.

I’d like to caution you not to…well put too much into your characters back story. A complicated back story is hard to express throughout the novel without it a) stressing you out and b) making the character hard to follow and also…a bit annoying.

It’s alright to have a tragic back story for your characters, but do so in a delicate fashion. Don’t just throw things into the story because it’s “dramatic” and “heart-wrenching.” As a book lover and an author…I find that stuff irritating.

I don’t mind if Bob’s parent’s were tragically killed in a car accident when he was little and that he has to live with his abusive grandfather, who hates him because his daughter married Bob’s father without her father’s blessing. Bob’s dream is to become a jockey but his grandfather is against it because he doesn’t think Bob will make much money. That’s a back story that has some depth and explanation…it’s saying “Yah this character’s an orphan and his grandpa’s a jerk” without adding in unnecessary background drama that does absolutely nothing for the story.

For example, Bob’s grandfather’s great-uncle Hank was trampled by a team of horses right in front of him. Bob also has a prosthetic leg because of the car accident. He has horrible flash backs about his first love being run over by a drunk driver while they were racing each other across the street. Bob’s claustrophobic and his grandfather is dying of a rare disease that eats away at your bones…or something.

Do not do that! Please! I am begging you!

I’ve read so many short stories by young people and they throw in so much of this…”drama” thinking that it’s good. This isn’t anime guys! Stop! Just stop! I’m trying to help you…please no over dramatic, tragic back stories. Please….

Well that’s all for now.

Write on!

— R.

Novel Update: And Off Topic Ramblings

Hello everyone! I hope that you’ve all been having an excellent week so far.

I got a lot of writing down the other day. The story is moving along quite nicely. I feel as though the transitions have been smooth so far…but of course I’ll know for sure once I begin editing.

…Okay this is off topic but I just gotta warn people…don’t do sit ups after you eat. I now have a really bad stomach ache.

Back on topic (ouch!), I find that writing about things such as love and romance in my novels is tough for me. I mean…I’m more of a fiction, sci-fi, historical, adventure kinda writer… I just have romance as a subplot because…well I like my characters to be as close to human as possible, you know? Thing is, I’ve never dated. I’ve never kissed anyone. I’m 19 years old okay? I don’t need to be rushing into anything. That whole high school dating thing never really got to me… my only “kiss” was on the cheek and the only time I was close to dating someone I was to chicken to make a move so I lost a good friend and a potential date. Woo! Way to go R!

As my sister would say, “You darn messed up!”

So…I had to write some romantic scenes and boy did I blush. I don’t know why, but I get really emotionally attached to my characters. I literally had to remember how I felt at age 14 when I got kissed on the cheek by my best friend…and crush at the time. It was awkward. I elbowed them in the face…. Yah…. That’s probably why I haven’t been kissed by anyone since. Maybe they all have a secret club or something where they’re like “R elbows people in the face! Don’t kiss them!”

Maybe if you didn’t sneak up on me, I wouldn’t have elbowed you? Ever think about that?

Anyways I spend enough time watching chick-flicks and Say Yes to the Dress and all that other junk. I really don’t mind it but it bothers me how all of these people are so focused on this ONE DAY. It’s not the wedding that’s important it is the life that you and your significant other will have together. I don’t understand why people can’t grasp that? It’s probably one of the big reasons why people are having issues in their marriages. They wanna go back to that “special day” when really every day should be special because you’re together, working as a team.

Well…that was off topic. It’s wedding season, and I’m planning a fictional wedding between two characters. I guess it’s not that off topic.

So, I got some writing done. Survived the two little romance scenes. I don’t know how well I’m going to create a fictional romance when I haven’t had a real romantic relationship. I’m doing my best.

Happy writing to you all! Enjoy the weather this weekend

I’ll be working…every day. Gotta pay for school somehow right? Man…education shouldn’t be this expensive. I should be able to pay for every year of school easily after working 3-4 months in the summer. It’s ridiculous.

Writing Tip: Drawing and Writing

I’m apologizing once again for not blogging as often. I haven’t been doing much other than work.

Novel wise, I decided to do some character sketches. Which I highly suggest. It helps you visualize your characters look and personality. Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures are capable of telling stories within themselves. It came help you form a characters background and it gives them more depth. The reason I suggest drawing them rather than searching up say…brown haired girl on Google, is because using an actual image from the internet takes away from your own creativity. What you visualize your character looking like won’t be found on Google (that is unless you chose a specific model and based your novel around them). It is better to draw your character. You don’t need to be artistic. What you might see and what someone else sees on that paper is going to be different. If we were not taught in school to over analyze the world of art and weren’t told that only ONE way of seeing things was the RIGHT way, then each and every person that saw your image would see something different.

It is just like when you finish watching a film or reading a book. You might have enjoyed it very much, but another person might not have gotten that same effect.

By drawing your characters you can remain in control. You won’t try to fit them into someone else’s image. They’ll remain apart of your world. You also wont feel the need to over describe them.

“Top 5 Ways Writers Screw Up Their Characters.”

This morning my sister shared this article with me called, “Top 5 Ways Writers Screw Up Their Characters.”

While reading it I realized that the very first novel I wrote did all of the top 5 but my latest novels haven’t done any of them! It’s always nice to see how I’ve improved.

I recommend reading this article. I’ll be adding it to my Resources for Writers page.

Novel Update: Writer’s Block Has Been Defeated!

Yep, it is true. I’ve finally punched writer’s block in the face!

After arriving at university (as some of my earlier followers may know), the new atmosphere and being on my own for the first time caused me to lose my…I guess the drive that I had while working on my novel. The last time I worked on it was my first week here at university, and that was August. Finally in the last few days of February I opened up my novel, and with the help of my sister, I began a new chapter.

Though writer’s block is horrible, and it was my first time actually dealing with it, the experience allowed me to further my research for my novel, rather than rush into everything all at once. I also reviewed notes that I made for my novel, and revised them. I feel as though I have more knowledge on the world of my novel now, than I did when I began writing it a year ago.

It’s still incredible to think that my novel is now a year old. I don’t believe that I’ve spent that much time with a novel. I believe deep in my heart that this one is going to be the one that I share with the world. I’m looking forward to the day when it is published. I designed the cover a year ago, and I still love it…however, I’m not entirely sure if I will have someone recreate it or if I will try to do it myself. Anyway, that is something that I can think about once the novel is complete.

After going through writer’s block for the very first time, I think that my advice to those who are going through it is, instead of beginning a new project, expand on your current one. Do some research, review whatever notes you’ve made…like maybe a character’s personality. It’s a good way to sort of take your novel and see how it’s developed so far.

Happy almost Friday everyone!

— O. Ryder

Random Writing Tip on Designing Characters

Boy with Hat

I find that what really helps me when designing characters is to actually draw them out. Especially if they’re a main character. I know that this doesn’t work for everyone, but I find this extremely helpful.

To do this, you don’t even need to be a talented artistic. It’s your vision of what the characters look like.

I find this much more useful than forcing my characters to look like a person in a picture that I found off of Google…that sort of thing takes away from my imagination. I’ve been sketching my characters from the beginning. I used to make music videos about them as well (which sadly are no longer available because my dad took apart the old computer and I have no idea of how to turn it back on. Plus I think the old monitor is at my grandparents now?).

Anyway, just thought I’d share this quick tip to any potential writers out there who might want to see their characters “face-to-face.”

I hope that you’re all enjoying your weekends so far.

— O. Ryder.