by Annette Young
When writing fiction, one of the trickiest elements is being able to create the solid building blocks of good characterisation. Even if you are eager to dip into the writing process, you shouldn’t bypass this stage because you will only end up performing an awful lot of re-writes. Failure to consider these building blocks will certainly impact your ability to create characters that seem real. If they don’t act naturally, are not compelling or believable, then you will certainly lose that connection with the reader.
I’m a firm believer that you should get to know your characters well before even starting the writing process. This doesn’t mean you have to sit down for hours, furiously scribbling out a back history; you can think and create important character traits while you tackle the mundane chores of everyday life. Alternatively, if you work better by creating an in-depth profile, do so.
You have to know all about your character if you are going to write with authority. Trust me; the words are likely to flow once you know how your character should act and why. If you are writing a novel and know your plot, it’s easier to create a character that is going to respond to the various traumas and obstacles that you will throw at them, if you don’t, then you may suddenly get inspiration for a plot through creative characterisation. There are no rules as to which way you should work.
When writing fiction, consider the following points for characterisation:
- What was your character’s life throughout childhood, those teenage years and into adulthood?
- How does your character make a living? Does the character enjoy this work? Has your character had problems in the work-place, before or currently?
- What does this character do for relaxation or for enjoyment?
- Relationships – does your character have a serious relationship already or, are there issues when it comes to dating i.e. bad relationships, serial dater, broken-hearted?
- What sort of outlook on life does your character have?
When writing fiction and, in particular, novel writing, you have to consider just what makes the character tick. The points included today are only a fraction of the elements needed but it’s a good starting point. You need to understand that former experiences will impact perception in life and will affect how the character thinks and acts. But there are many components that make an individual unique. It’s important to know how to build in the back-story and to create a character that is rich in layers and that has a unique voice.
The next time you are writing fiction, try writing a profile for yourself and consider all the elements that make up a character that almost walks off the page.