Workshop: Pass the Shovel, It's Getting Deep Lesson Two by Angelica Hart and Zi
What Accent Was That? (Characterization)
It's fun to create characters. They can be anything you want them to be from an animal to an alien to an adult or a child. However, most stories need a protagonist(s), antagonist(s) and secondary characters.
Z: Angelica likes doing the villains. (Sighs) Whereas I just cannot bring myself to slip into the consciousness of such evil. (Feigns looking superior)
A: Excuse moi, I wasn't the one that described detail by gruesome detail death by ricen in KILLER DOLLS.
Z: No comment.
A: Ah, you have made my point, characters have many different facets, and you being quiet is certainly a different facet for you....However, we digress....
To start, think of a book you might have read that has a memorable character. What made you like that character? What made you dislike the villain? Did you want the protagonist to succeed? Did you want the villain to succeed? Every reader wants to identify with the hero/heroine and wants then to improve, thrive, overcome, complete their quest, mission, adventure, and/or trial with satisfaction. Rarely but sometimes, that might end in a character's demise, but if they accomplished their objective, it can still be a satisfying read. Then again, most readers like happily ever after, and might just throw the book against the wall.
A: Which is why e-readers are a good thing. Most readers won't throw a reader, they're too expensive.
Z: They'll just write you a not so pleasant note.
A: I hate when that happens....
Z: No one ever wrote us an unpleasant note, did they?
A: (Looks wide-eyed) Of course, not. (Mentally reminds herself to delete the nasty emails) Back to the lesson....
To make a character believable, they must become real to the author. They must have physical characteristics, but they must also have emotional ones and flaws as well. Even the hero or heroine must possess imperfections.
Your main character should be introduced in the first paragraph along with the story’s conflict. In a short story, the villain and any secondary characters should be introduced by the second or third paragraph.
Particulars: Characters do not live in a black hole, make use of your senses. Have the character look around themselves:
Observe their surroundings, put yourself in the character's mind:
What do they see?
What do they feel?
What do they smell?
What do they hear?
Always place a character in a setting even if you use only one or two words:
Example: Amy strolled through the park. (By using the word park, the reader instantly can place Amy in a setting. You could just as easily write, along the city street, over the country lane, through the train terminal, etc.)
More about a character's setting:
The setting must reflect the type of story. Genres call up certain background images. If you think of fantasy, romance, science fiction, contemporary, mystery, western, or thriller, a setting will instantly come to mind. Same thing happens with the reader. There are expectations in place, and only you can change those expectations by creating the perfect environment for your character.
Things to consider: Where and When:
Time period: present, future, past
Is the character on earth or another planet?
What makes this setting special to the plot?
You should know your main characters nearly as well as you know yourself, and if you build profile sheets on each, you become more intimate with them. Also, it makes it easy to refer back to when you forget the color of their eyes. You might not think you would, but trust us, it happens. The following is the basics of what you should know, albeit, you can add more information and should tailor it until it is yours:
Name and age
Most likeable character trait
Most unlikeable character trait
Family -alive, dead, relationships
What are they doing when the story starts
What did they do the day before
Significant events in their lives
This is not mandatory but if you'd wish to do a homework assignment: Write a paragraph or two introducing the character. Show the reader what they look like, what they are wearing, what they are feeling and where they are. If you have any questions or wish to send us your assignment, write us at email@example.com with lesson two in the subject line.
If you have any general questions, post them here, so that all can share in the responses.
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