What’s in Character – Now What!

10 Apr

Okay. We have finished your character’s creation. during the preceding What’s in Character blog posts. You’ve been following this blog and building a character along the way. I can here you now. “Great Dennis. I have twenty-two pages of information on each of my characters. My character notebook is a novel unto itself. I know more about them than I do about my own family. What do I do with all of it?” My standard response to all questions is, “That depends.”

1)  If you don’t have a plot in mind for your story, dive into your character’s lives and find something that would come into great conflict with your protagonist. Hopefully, you can also find something about you protagonist that would pose a great conflict for your antagonist. Ta Da, you have an initial plot conflict.

2)  What if you have a plot in mind? Look for new potential character arcs. Ways in which your characters can change based on the plot line. Trust me that the information you have generated during the previous posts is full of potential.

3)  I have a plot. I have character arcs. I have all the conflicts the reader could hope to want in a story. What else can I use this tome for?  COLOR! The whole point of this exercise was to create characters that are real to the reader. Use this material to add realism. Have you character twirl her hair while she talks to the police detective. The officer doesn’t know this is a tell that she is lying bu,t you can let the reader know it is with a few well-chosen words of description embedded in the dialogue. Add bits and sprinkles of your character’s likes and dislikes or tags and traits into dialogue to break it up and make it grab the reader. After a critical scene, your character may need to reflect on the situation. Have them grab their favorite drink, find their favorite comfortable spot and reflect away. The added details can be found in you Tome of Characters. Have fun with it but, don’t over do it. The information about your character that you relate to thee reader should be there for a reason.

It was my intention to give you details as to how my “Yursi” character was created. However, my character file is at 23 pages and growing. that’s too much for this blog. You will just have to read my short story,  Good Night’s Sleep, and the novel to follow to find out more about the raven-haired witch with twin magical daggers that is searching for a lost relative and her own identity while being hunted down by her own family. 🙂 That project is slated for 2014.

Let me know how your characters turn out. 


Posted by on April 10, 2013 in What's in Character


Tags: , , , , , ,

8 responses to “What’s in Character – Now What!

  1. Elizabeth Hein

    April 10, 2013 at 7:36 am

    Great series of posts, Dennis. It took me a long time to fully appreciate how valuable it is to flesh out your character before sitting down to write. It may seem like a lot of work, but it can save far more work in the editing phase.

    • Dennis Langley

      April 10, 2013 at 10:19 am

      Thank you. I recently broke from traditional and started a new project without building out the main characters first. I am now stuck having to go back and fill in back story so i understand why they are acting up. “Do as I say…Not as I do!” 🙂

  2. char

    April 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    I loved these character lessons. You gave me lots of things to work on, and I am grateful!

    • Dennis Langley

      April 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      Super! I’m glad I could help you out. Let me know how it works for you.

  3. Matthew Wright

    April 16, 2013 at 1:27 am

    You’ve been sharing some great tips here – helpful & definitely got me thinking. A lateral thought here. It occurs to me that there is a distinction between what authors have to do in order to present character – because of the linear nature of writing – and what you might see for real when you meet someone. The expression, ‘business’, body language etc all has to be described in a chain of words, rather than appearing simultaneously at a glance, as happens in real life. I’m not sure what to make of that thought yet but figured I’d share it… 🙂 Any thoughts?

    • Dennis Langley

      April 16, 2013 at 7:40 am

      That is interesting and a very good point. The order in which an author provides details can help say a lot about the character. For example, a character is a hair stylist. The first thing that they may notice or be drawn to about other people is their hair color or cut. This may also be how this character judges first encounters.
      In addition, most times authors use only a few words to describe a character or scene for that matter. The choice of words and order they are revealed affect the way the reader creates the scene in their own mind. Each reader interprets the words differently. This is definitely something to consider.

  4. Sara Kjeldsen

    April 18, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    These are great tips. Wow! It really brings life to a story when you add in important details about a character (i.e. The hair twirling whenever she lies). It just makes them so real and makes you care about them so much more.

    • Dennis Langley

      April 18, 2013 at 12:34 pm

      Thank you, Sara. I hope there is something there you can use.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: