photo by the lovely WiseKumagoro
You can’t write a story without a character. Or you can, but it probably wouldn’t be very interesting. Throughout the course of a story – be it fiction or nonfiction – the reader gets to know this character. Sometimes we like them. Sometimes we don’t. As the author, you need to explore every aspect – especially for fiction. Even if it doesn’t come up in story, the details need to be there. Of course, we have the usual details: Name, age, birthday.
But what about the questions that don’t often come up, but should probably be known? For one of my characters, I even have his date of death. Of course, that comes up in the course of his story, so …. At any rate, what sort of questions do you ask your character? What is he – or she – allergic to?
Located here is an article with 9 Questions you SHOULD ask your main character.
I’m sure you’ve seen those memes on deviantart & facebook, bidding you have one. One of the more recent ones is about a mental institution, who made you go crazy, who brought you to the institution, etc …. They’re intended to be answered by you. But try answering them from the point of view of your main character. Or any character, frankly. Here’s my results from my character Gabriel, who is the pro/antagonist of his story Insomnia. For Gabriel, he was probably committed by his mother of a court order from a judge, having finally lost his marbles (we all knew it was coming), and the person most likely to break him out would likely be Zoey, a friend over the years he makes contact with now and again.
And frankly, everyone should take this test, whether you agree with your results or not: The Mary Sue Test. Not to check the ‘originality’ of the character, but because it has some good, valid questions. Take this, and really, really think about it.
Cliches: Everyone uses them, at one point or another. Whether it be in the character design or the dialogue. I do it – especially with dialogue – because it sounds good and people like it. That’s why it is cliche. People use it again and again, because it works.
But be original! If you can think of something else to do, do it.
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