Characters: story building

My stories always start with one character that’s speaking to be enough to explore their life. Sometimes the character just comes to me. The Highly Capable’s Ruby just showed up one day with her crazy, red hair and attitude, demanding I pay attention to her. Other times I actively seeking characters. They are good to have around.
Recently I wrote a coming of age young adult novel. (It’s not in my hands at the moment, so the mere mention of it gives my stomach some discomfort.) During the early stages of creating that book I knew I had needed a character somewhere, an important on but I didn’t have a clear idea who they were.
(The ability to see through the whole story helps not getting stuck, staring at the screen or notebook with wide eyes and the taste of sulfur on my tongue.
I often break off into jam sessions if the sentences aren’t flowing. Abstract thought can be very freeing.
I ended up with a fun process I use when creating characters that now I use regularly, sometimes even as my warm up exercises. It’s pretty simplistic, entertaining, and involves talking to yourself using a pen ad paper—which by the way is something I highly recommend to everyone. Something I write questions down and often, then write down the answer automatically without even realizing it.
Here, it goes something like this:

Key Trait- Stubborn
Reality- A future during the time the sun is dying
Goal- To find her brother
Obstacle- She’s contained inside a raider camp
Stubbornness- Helps find her brother.

See what happened there?

Not controlling my thoughts helps here, but I always do start in this order.

Another one:

Key Trait- Impulsiveness
Reality: Present time, dealing with grief
Goal: To find peace in his life without his loved one.
Obstacle: Dealing with the loss is painful, which leads to avoidance.

Here the first trait, impulsiveness is going to be something that works against the character.

There are a million possible outcomes. I do exercises similarly to this for free writing, but also for larger projects throughout the whole process. I find that it helps me to be able to see what I couldn’t before, and that’s always good.

2 thoughts on “Characters: story building

  1. I do something similar when I have a character I’m not quite sure about. It helps to have those core ideas about them, and it’s true that sometimes when writing down questions, the answers come automatically.

    Liked by 1 person

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