Dramaquill's All Things Writing

March 16, 2008

Getting inside your characters

We’ve all read articles aimed at helping us create more believable, three-dimensional characters.  We’re told to give them mannerisms or expressions that make them unique.  Most likely we’ve gone to coffee shops or food courts to people watch, scribbling character descriptions into our notebooks.

And that’s all good.  Listening and watching are two very effective ways to add depth and believability to the characters we create.  We want our readers to identify with them as people and care about what happens to them.  That keeps our readers reading.

I’ve tried something new for a couple of recent projects, one an MG book and the other a YA chicklit type novel and it has really helped me shape my main characters into “real” people.

I’ve created a journal for each of them – not the online kind but an actual, handwritten journal in a journal book.  Even picking out the book to use helped me define more of each character’s personality. 

My MG character half prints and half writes in her journal.  Sometimes she uses short forms, like the text message kind except they are her own creations.  My YA heroine likes to dot her i’s with little circles instead of dots and her writing is very feminine and flowing. 

I don’t write in the journals everyday, but whenever I’m working on an aspect of the story where my character might have something to say that won’t make it into the actual pages of the book, that’s when I let them journal.

Who knows – maybe some of the journal entries might end up in the manuscript, but I doubt it. 

But sadly, there’s one downside.  I rarely write or reflect in MY journal anymore.  Oh well.  Until I use myself as a character in a book, I guess it’s really not necessary…haha!

Try it and see if it works for you.

I’d love to hear from any of my readers who try this form of character development or those who have other ways to really get inside the heads of their characters.

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2 Comments »

  1. This is an idea I have never come across before. For now I let my characters play around in my head, but maybe I will take up this kind of journaling by my characters!

    http://amloki.blogspot.com

    Comment by damyantig — March 16, 2008 @ 11:37 PM | Reply

  2. Thanks for your comments. Like you, I also invite my characters into my head a lot and that helps when I’m writing at the computer and everything’s spilling out quickly. Almost like the character is purging everything through me.

    Hope the journal plan takes your characters to new depths.

    Comment by dramaquill — March 17, 2008 @ 11:13 AM | Reply


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