How to write characters in fiction

Fiction Writing

Fiction writing is actually a broad category and can apply to TV, radio shows, short fiction, novellas, and of course novels. Plays and screenplays both also involve creating characters. In this article we will take a quick look at what is involved in creating good characters in your work of fiction.

Characterisation

When any of us read excellent fiction, the characters always stand out. Once you look, you will notice that they have enough depth to hold our interest, but are really held together by being exemplars of just a handful of traits. From a personal perspective, I find this easy to relate to because of how much I create my own images or senses of what other real people are like in a similar manner. I know there is greater depth and more detail to each of us, but often a few things are enough.

In creating characters for fiction, realize that the plot and the characters need to go together. If they don’t, you will get quite a bizarre tale or the story won’t go well because your characters are forced to act out of character much of the time in order to drive the plot forward.

Motives

What motivates your characters? Knowing any major life motive can help create the right kind of person for your story. A character may be most motivated by love or by sexual desire, or by money. One might have an intense personal passion and interest. One could be out for revenge or out to save the world. Of course, the lack of motive or unknown motives can be an intentional means of making a mysterious character.

The life motivations and what is driving the character through the story may be different. For example, one could easily have a sexually motivated life motivated character who is driven by the desire to rescue a damsel in distress while working as a police officer in a mystery novel. One could have an artist, motivated to achieve heights of personal self-expression over all but within the story line is motivated by her romantic desires in a romance novel.

Looks

Especially from the movies and television, people are somewhat conditioned about who we see and what we think. How people present themselves for work life and through other means also influence us. So do personal experience and personal preferences. In this case, personal experience includes other stories we have read or watched as plays or TV or film or even know from songs.

Making characters that look right may well come naturally. If you are a new writer, writer’s groups can be a great place to get feedback about what your own characters are like, including the question of whether or not they look right for the part.

As a writer, you have the choice to be intentionally conventional or intentionally unconventional. In reality, for most writers, leave the unconventional until after your career is established.

Tall dark and handsome still means something, but whether dark obviously means a black man or if it means a white man with dark swarthy hair depends. The characters need to fit the environment and the story line.

Other Traits

Your characters may well have professions. Whenever there is a good job match between a person and their profession, the job is a great way to showcase the identity of the character. A character that does not have a good job fit, and is not well represented by their profession may need to be shown to express that somehow – as a hobby or through volunteer work or some other means, or to have some difficulty with the job. A little dialog in bits and pieces might show the person’s colleagues expressing the ill-fitting nature of the job or that something about the person or situation is peculiar or even wrong.

Other qualities that may not be too difficult to express in written fiction: savvy, fear, courage timidity, enthusiasm, unforgiving, kind, impatient, persistent, inconsistent.

Intimacy

The relationship between characterization and plot is so intimate because what your characters do in response to each event is determined by who they are. As simplistic as it sounds it is that the plot of a story and the characters are interdependent.

Dialog within a story is a great way to give your characters more opportunities to express their identities to the readers while also driving the plot of the story forward.

Any other form of intimacy that occurs within the story can be used to reveal the character of the characters – silly as that sounds.

Of course, the secrecy and uncertainty people have about who other people really are is often used in writing. In many mysteries and thrillers the villain is someone who, on the surface, does not appear to be of the same character that he or she really is. In comic book hero stories, the villain is often open and well known for who he or she really is.

Characteristation

Integral to every written work of art involving people and an active story line are characters. The art of creating and portraying characters through the written word is an important part of being a writer and of every story. Some of it may come naturally, but a lot of it can also be learned. Just remember that your plot and your characters need each other.

To see how I did it in an urban novel, just click on the link : The Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead

Chaos Post – poetic prose

This post may contain nonsequiters and other signs of being a stream of consciousness relationship with context than a carefully structured advertisement for an attractive new urban crime novel.

The novel shown on the left can be purchased directly using http://sbpra.com/miriampia/  .  Not only did I write it and edit it at least 7 times, but it is finally for sale in a respectable form.  I have touched it and can confirm that if you buy it I know what you will be getting.   I am actually quite proud of it, as it is my first published novel.  I wrote it after working as a professional writer for a while, mostly as a ghostwriter working from home while living in the same big city that the novel is set in:  Indianapolis.

Everyone who lives or has visited Indianapolis that not everyone there has the same color skin.  This doesn’t need to be a problem but some – and luckily only some, of the people who live there make a drama of a small matter like that.  There are characters of more than one so-called “race” in the story.  Which ones shows what it was really like there when the story was written and is not intended to insult those not represented in the story.  Unlike too many stories prior to 1970, there are both good guys and bad guys of more than one color rather than color coding the good guys and bad guys.

Meanwhile, I have tried multiple times to get the blog out without the “shame” of showing that there is a domain name problem.  What really happened is that I renewed but the system acted as if I had not.  Then, what happened was that I got a new domain name and have asked that my blog be changed over to the new domain.  I have requested this assistance at least 3 times but it did not come through for me.  I am hoping that now it finally will.

Together Time & Alone Time

Today’s post is about amounts of togetherness. Most people like to feel ‘not alone’ at least sometimes but also like to be able to ‘be alone – by oneself’ at least sometimes.

Over the course of a life, there are those of us who get the balance right most of the time and others who cope with either too much or not enough alone time over the years.

One activity that people can enjoy to be on their own but still feel at least somewhat connected is reading.

Some of you already know that I write. Most of what I have written professionally does not have my name on it: I have no control over those and am not really involved with them much afterwards. Most of you also know that there are works of which I am the author. It is a real pleasure to find customers. I know that it is challenging: as someone who has been irritated by sales people but who has also spent happily and willingly on items I really wanted or needed, it can be strange to hawk one’s wares.

For nonfiction – if you have ever wondered about the meaning of life or how to tell right from wrong, or even how we have anything like knowledge at all, please actually buy http://www.amazon.com/Five-Big-Questions-Life-answer/dp/1617208647/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354910525&sr=1-7&keywords=Five+Big+Questions+in+Life

More about the readers December 2013

Hi everyone.  Today I’d like to thank you all for your patience as I learn how this thing works.  There are some comments making it through the layers of filtration.  Some filters are IP addresses and levels of computer hardware and cross-system networking that I don’t even know exist let alone understand, whereas other filters are ‘things’ such as subjective minds, personal defenses and occasionally generalized disbelief. 

Sales of the books could use a boost, so please do spread the word.  As I’m sure you understand, I do want to find those who are interested and will like them and can spend the money or have someone buy for them without any injuries and I would prefer that no one cries – not even me, from ‘the sales process’.  Urban crime fiction or a nonfiction self help booklet that can also be used for intro to philosophy classes in English speaking schools and universities. 

The wind here in the lower of the Saxonies is strong enough that there are weather warnings about it.  I haven’t lived anyplace where that is ‘so true’ before.  Hopefully it is not witchcraft from somewhere or a side effect of the pollution where the real ‘witchcraft’ was abusing the environment in our human lust for power.  In some cases that does mean electricity.  If the wind gets too intense they stop using the trains.  This makes sense but has not come up much before in my life so I notice it a lot.

Wow, thanks! and links to ‘my books’.

Wow, one of you actually asked for information on how to buy the books.  Thanks to your having bothered to comment, I can respond here.
Here:  for the little self help booklet:  http://www.amazon.com/Five-Big-Questions-Life-Answer/dp/1617208647/ref=sr_1_1/180-2903824-2848155?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386095538&sr=1-1&keywords=Five+Big+Questions+in+Life

For the urban crime fiction novel…There is a rougher version you can get as a Kindle book through Amazon.com as An Adventure in Indianapolis.  Also, for a much neater, more edited hard copy…  Here is a website. http://sbpra.com/MiriamPia/

Please let me know what results you get.  I want to make sure people get the book.  I can also get you a PDF less edited version without a professional cover through Uranian Fiction.com. 

I do worry over that novel because weir events have occurred with it in the past and I’m trying to avoid ripping anyone off or anything like that.  If you place an order and do not receive the book within 2 weeks please let me know and we will work something out.

 

Is that just you? Have I been read or heard? Have you? 2013

So many people nowadays post information online at various locations.  I read something somewhere about people giggling over comments they have written or posted.  I think another lady wrote it. 

Mainly, what I’m getting at is that in my own case I think some of that stems  from the confusion about whether or not I’ve been read.  Until or unless people send me feedback, determining whether or not anyone has read something I have written is almost as challenging as a form of divination.  Was just that I thought about something that I wrote, or was it that one person read it and gave it a little bit of thought, or tens or even hundreds of people read it and all gave it a moment of thought? 

Being a writer by trade, much as I strove to have a day job in a different field – I tried to become a woman working as a philosophy teacher at a university somewhere, and even tried convenient store management as another alternative…as a writer getting read and having people willingly buy stuff I wrote and reading it and really really liking it ….Liking it the way people love a good read or a great movie…is the other half of the reality of writing…Reading.

Have you ever read me?  At the moment, there are an unspecified number of people who have, but do not know it was me, because there is no byline – ghostwritten.  Do I look like a ghost to you?  There is also a little bit of work I have actually authored: wouldn’t that be nice?  To have what I have authored bought, and sold and me getting paid and readers loving it and liking it and some people even respecting me or even some fans.

I encourage, or even implore you to check out the following links:  http://sbpra.com/MiriamPia/   is for a novel.  About that philosophy teacher thing:  http://www.amazon.com/Five-Big-Questions-Life-Answer/dp/1617208647/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381520676&sr=1-1&keywords=Five+Big+Questions+in+Life  How about a practical mini course at your own leisure?