Character: True Self

They say character equals story. In order to identify your character’s wound (see yesterday’s post) you need to get in touch with that character personally. That is, instead of thinking about this character as someone you the writer gets to boss around, consider him/her as autonomous.
Writing Tip for Today: Here are some ways you might bring your character’s true self out of the shadows:

  • Write a letter from your character to you. Ask that character what he/she wants, and why.
  • Journal as the character. This is similar to the first idea, but you could sustain it over days or weeks and just allow the character to say whatever comes through.
  • Watch movies, identify a similar character(s). I remember the old advice to cut out magazine pix of what you think your character looks like. How about taking that idea a step further and come up with a movie character or meld of characters which closely resemble your character?
  • Pick a star. I love this one–I’ve decided Sandra Bullock should play the lead when my novel is made into a movie.
  • Keep notebooks full of info on the character, such as background, family dynamics, education, etc. This info is mostly for your eyes only. Don’t try to squeeze every factoid into the story.

Ultimately the better you know your character, the better your story will be.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

3 comments on “Character: True Self

  1. Writing from 1st person POV will bring forth the personal wounds if the author is brave enough to show them.

    Lawrence Block’s detective Scudder is an ex-cop and recovering alcoholic. An excellent example of a flawed character that adds depth to his stories.

    James Burke

  2. Great comment, James. And also, for some writers, a big “if.” The most authentic character wounds are ones we as people have been through. Ask yourself, what does revealing this wound, through 1st person or any other way, cost the character? What’s the cost to the writer? The most genuine characters have traits that have cost them dearly. ~Linda

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