I’ve been busy working on writing my sequel to MYTHOLOGY (*cough* shameless plug) and just recently hit THAT POINT.
For me, the best point possible in my writing comes when my characters decide of their own volition to peel themselves off of the page and become real. That’s when they start to run around in my head and truly speak to me. That’s when I can open up my word processing file and just jump right back into it because they’ve been impatiently waiting for me to write about them. The more alive my characters feel to me, the more impatient they get.
So this brings up the idea of character-building. Your characters should be more than familiar to you. You should know everything about them, how they would react to certain situations, what their primary motivations are, what their VOICE is like (especially for first person junkies like myself), what they like to do, what they hate with a passion, what their routines are, how others perceive them, what their quirky things are, what their flaws are, and so on. The reader may never see the vast majority of these things, but YOU should know.
Character-building is not a new concept. On-line, you can readily find discussions of this that include formal character charts and other tools to help you. I’m going to suggest a quick and fun test of your characters by using one of those on-line personality quizzes. There are some that are more serious than others, but the ones that seem to be popular are fairly silly and give you a humorous answer. But have you ever taken one of these as your character? Let’s try one… (Note: I went to quizrocket.com, but there are many fun, free, on-line quizzes available).
I took one called The Twilight Quiz as my main character, Hope, for the sake of hilarity and as a useful exercise. Note: MYTHOLOGY is a boy-meets-girl-in-high-school-with-a-paranormal-twist story but other than that is NOT like Twilight at all. (And Hope could kick Bella’s butt any day.) This quiz is multiple-choice and it was incredibly long, but I’ll just list a few of the questions and her answers below.
Q: What would you say is your worst flaw?
A: I don’t know my own strength.
Q: Which Twilight character do you think is the most attractive?
Q: Complete this sentence: “True love is…”
A: Found when you least expect it
Q: If you cast your vote on Bella’s mortality, what would you choose?
A: I vote for her to stay mortal
Q: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
And when all was said and done, Hope was found to be most similar to… Edward Cullen. Maybe because of the strength answer and because of the superpower answer? And maybe Edward secretly has a thing for Jasper… haha. But seriously, I was mostly just glad that she wasn’t Bella 😉 AND that I knew how she would answer for the vast majority of the questions (except for one…).
The important thing while doing this little exercise is to pay attention to whether or not the questions are easy to answer. Sometimes the selection of multiple choice answers on these quizzes is a little strange to begin with, but were there any questions that truly stumped you with your character? The one that gave me pause was HER BIRTHDAY. But now I know what it is: December 18, 1994. Huzzah!
What sorts of fun exercises have you used to build your characters?