Tip Tuesday Round Up: Building character5 min read

by | Dec 6, 2016 | Tips | 0 comments

A weekly round up of writing advice and inspiration

“It makes sense that books for children and young adults so often center on sibling bonds. In adolescence, most of us pull away from parents and depend increasingly on our friends. But siblings are two things simultaneously: part of the family whose influence we want to shake, and also part of the age group whose opinions and acceptance we seek.”

The Lit Hub had a great article this week on one of my favourite explorations in fiction: the the complexity of the sibling bond. Katherine Noel investigates why we tend to see these relationships more often in YA than adult fiction, and looks at some past examples where this bond has successfully been made the focal point of a novel.

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“Using the Myers-Briggs personality types to design your characters can take the guesswork out of how they may behave in the same or similar circumstances, essentially providing a comprehensive analysis of what motivates and influences them as they move through the world. In fact, many writers and animators have been using Myers-Briggs as a tool for character creation for a while now.”

Are you struggling with how one of your characters might react to a certain event? Aiming for consistency in temperament but can’t figure out how someone so unlike yourself might act? Here’s an interesting idea: Voices invites you to use the Myers-Briggs personality test to help build your character.

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“I’m writing to provoke emotions in an audience; I’m not writing characters who are trying to win personality contests. If I was they would instantly become safe and uninteresting. Just as people who chase popular approval in real life are bland company, so are characters created by authors craving the same thing for them. It’s more important that a character feels authentic and real than whether or not they are friendship material.

I love this quirky little piece by playwright Phoebe-Waller Bridge who is a self-confessed writer of outrageous and amoral women. Here she quite rightly argues that an audience often want to watch a character with a lack of morals rather than a squeaky-clean character with an overabundance of them. She talks about characters that have already proved this point – House of Cards‘ Underwoods, and practically everyone in Game of Thrones – and talks about how she came to write her own dark creation.

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“Oh, I do love writing characters. One of the best moments in life is when a new character comes bouncing into my head, with a story to unpack. Usually they show up with one facet of a story I might like to tell, and I spend a lot of time thinking and listening to some inner part of myself that is working to create a real person—or what feels like a real person.”

A creative teacher answers “How to write characters that feels real” for The Huffington Post, including bestowing them with plenty of quirks, writing them into unfamiliar situations and one of my favourite writing exercises – inventing a mock-interview with your protagonist.

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“My favorite characters are always the most difficult. They are liars and cheats, narcissists and phobics, obsessives and gluttons. They are all those words some readers use to dismiss a character – flawed, unlikable, and irredeemable. It is for these same reasons that I love my difficult characters. The cracks in character/virtue are the tunnel through which I squeeze.”

The Writer Mag‘s recent interview with Julia Fierro is worth a read: here is an author who is particularly fiery when it comes to the effort one should put into character building. Here she shares her views on how deep one should travel into a character’s mind, how much a character you write becomes a mirror of yourself, and her own inner struggle between the true nature of the human being and her own internal optimism.

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