Characters

Admin User Exercises, Tools & Tips

‘Strong, well-rounded characters who spring from the page fully formed are the most valuable currency for every writer.’

How you find characters varies from writer to writer:

– you collect details as you go along

– you collate details from people you know

– some emerge fully formed from the sub-conscious (like Dracula in a dream to Bram Stoker)

‘The way to make characters believable is for you, as a writer, to inhabit their skin – imagine what it is like to be that person, no matter how unlikeable, corrupt or creepy.’

‘The telling detail can give us as much, if not more, than any amount of description.’

Exercise

Think of a character who has little in common with you:

• establish the basics: name, age, nationality, appearance etc

• start to think about who they really are: what do they like to eat? what is their favourite item of clothing? what do they smell like?

• then ask: what is their greatest fear? what is the first thing anyone notices about them? what is their relationship with their parents?

Now write a scene with the character in it. Keep it ordinary and everyday, like doing the dishes. Let their actions tell us about them.

Source: How to write, Kate Pullinger, The Guardian, 2009