How I Create Characters, is very much a personal experience for me and I’d imagine for many other authors. How we approach creating a character’s physical appearance, personality, interests and individual traits will vary I’m sure. I draw many traits from people and fictitious characters I have observed throughout my life. Some you like and some you don’t!
I wanted to help the reader engage with the characters nature. To feel a part of the character’s life and emotions. So, there is more to the creation of a character than just a description, in order to identify and empathise with.
Whilst writing, I discovered that the characteristics come from inner feelings. It is important to me that you can laugh and cry with the characters in the story. Put yourself in their shoes.
The personality traits are really what makes the character ‘tick’. What drives them to discover the truth, to fight for justice, or sometimes just to accept they are wrong. To make them human.
When a character is faced with a dangerous situation that will threaten their life, they demonstrate their determination and inner strength, revealing their major characteristics.
Ginny. A description.
A little while later, refreshed and smelling far more fragrant, she pulled on her skinny jeans. Comfortable, her long slim legs suited them.
She threw on a black T-shirt and a little make-up, usually a small streak of black eyeliner which highlighted her green eyes.
Before putting on her sandals, she brushed her blonde hair, then slung her bag over her shoulder, checking for her mobile phone and keys.
She pulled closed the front door and headed down the stairs, through the tenement Close and emerged into the sunshine of the street.
This is a descriptive piece of Ginny, one of the main characters in The Windmill, but it does not enlighten us to her full character yet. This description was given in the first chapter, and I wanted to make the character as authentic as possible. It is a relationship building process, growing throughout the story. Just as you get to know someone in real life.
By letting you feel their emotions, you can understand what drives them.
In creating the characters, I asked myself the question; how would I feel if this happened to me or to someone I loved?
If I could sense the characters emotion, then I hoped that you as the reader, would as well. When I read the manuscript for The Windmill, I knew the parts that made me laugh and those moments where I felt sad… And I’d written it!
My empathy for real life situations helped me to create the personalities for the characters. It brought them to life and made them real for you the reader. So, to say there is a little bit of the author in every character, is true.
Florence. A moment of strength.
The lieutenant had nearly given up trying to get her attention when suddenly Florence caught sight of a familiar item… her old brown suitcase.
Her eyes drew up to be met by Lieutenant Blackthorn staring at her – he thought how beautiful she looked, such an air of supreme calmness about her.
In this brief moment of recognition, enough was expressed between them without ever uttering a single word. Florence stood up; she knew what she must do.
With courage, she averted her gaze from the lieutenant, ignoring him, and began walking to where the tall figure stood by a car on the dockside, in the dark.
In The Windmill, a non-linear story with multi-layers, the characteristic traits of many of the characters might be recognised in other characters in the story.
But how can this be? Can we empathise with the same personality traits in Ginny as Florence for instance?
Simple answer…yes. And there are good reasons for this.
These strong characters will drive the story forward and perhaps even back through history…
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