AND the Character series is officially a month old! Man, how the time flies… kinda like the TWITTER CHAT THAT WE DID A WEEK AND A HALF AGO THAT WILL REPEAT THIS SATURDAY. Ahem. Not hinting anything. At all. Carry on.
You’re probably tired of all the ‘Favorite Food, Favorite Music, Favorite Celebrity’ nonsense that somehow aways ends up on character questionnaires, and you, like me, have probably wondered what the heck to put there. I mean, come on- half my people have never even seen our world, and they don’t have that much variety in their diet. As for music… I have no idea.
Once you think about it, though, the answer is pretty simple*. And I guess this goes hand in hand with last week’s post- get yourself into the mindset of your characters. This means when you’re by yourself (or with others- you do you, I tend toward the latter), it’s totally okay to participate in imaginary conversations. When you’re eating, think about what your character would be thinking about. When listening to music, listen to the lyrics- does anything fit someone’s character arc? Create a playlist for each person or relationship or setting or whatever. If it even remotely reminds you of someone, add it.
*I said simple, not easy, put down your weapons and lawsuits. Please. I’m broke.
Getting yourself into your characters’ minds (and staying there) is absolutely crucial for your writing. If you want to write realistically, you must know them inside and out. This does not mean necessarily knowing what their favorite food or music or celebrity is (although it’s pretty cool to know that); it means knowing how they think, and what influences their thinking. Can those little questions help? Yes! But you don’t have to know specifics. Heck, if it’s fantasy or adventure or sci-fi or whatever, their favorite TV show might not even make an appearance. TV shows might not even be a thing.
Knowing your characters’ values is so easily overlooked while developing that it’s almost funny. Almost, because if you don’t know their values, they might end up severely violating them and not having any backlash for it. As silly as that sounds, you wouldn’t believe the amount of books I’ve read where it happens.
Politics is a really great place to start- not necessarily what political party they belong to, but what ideology they match the best.
Religion is a HUGE factor, as well- you’ll want to determine about how devout the character is, and recognize that people within each tend to practice differently. Some people take more of a blended approach, picking and choosing various facets of different religions to meld into a unique belief system. Others skip from religion to religion, unable to settle on one for more than a few weeks or months.
Finally, think about their childhood. Family life plays a huge role in determining a person’s values as an adult. Sigmund Freud proposed five general stages- oral, anal, phallic, latent, and genital- of life, each of which one might ‘fixate’ in in certain circumstances.
Fixating in any stage will supposedly cause certain effects following the person into adulthood. It is worth mentioning, however, that just because one might have experienced one or more of the triggers, it does not mean that they will bear the characteristics of one who has fixated- or vice versa.
Whatever a child is taught by their parents will generally stick with them, whether they end up seeing it positively or negatively. Often that is determined by (and will influence) the view they hold of them. If broccoli, for example, is forced on a child at a young age, they will grow to hold very negative connotations of it. Broccoli will always be seen as the veggie that they had to eat before having dessert, and because it kept them from that eventual goal, the person will not be keen on trying it again. Of course, this is a very rough example, but you get the idea. Negative memories = long-lasting negative connotations. The same goes for good memories- getting lots of good presents at birthday parties will endear said birthday parties to a person. Therefore, positive memories = positive connotations.
Thanks for joining me for week 4! I hope you come to the chat this Saturday (9 o’clock on Twitter, #characterchat)- in the meantime, have a great week!