Tag Archive: how to make a character come alive

Everyone wants to write a great novel. They have a terrific idea and a few intriguing characters but how do they prolong the short story in their head to novel length? They may also worry about keeping it real. The idea of writing 60,000 words alone can be terrifying. So my advice is not to think about it. As more scenes are added, your word count will grow. It has to.

So how do you write a scene that sounds real? For me I’ve found a few tricks. I’ve found they work best if you’re sitting in front of the computer. If you write longhand you can still do these, it’ll just take longer.

The first thing to do is sit down in a comfortable position. Next place your hands on the keyboard and close your eyes. Take in a few deep breaths. Then put yourself into the character’s shoes that owns the scene you want to write.

Feel the character’s emotions rising in you. See with your eyes the character’s surroundings. Then delve into the character’s memories. If the character ran into someone right now, what would they say? How would they act?

Put yourself into this character. With your eyes still closed, begin to type the scene. Don’t worry about the typos. You can go back and fix them later. Right now focus solely on the character and what’s going on. You are that character. It is you, that has been robbed. What do you say? Do you scream it? Do you throw something? What? Did it brake? How? Do you feel satisfaction? Fear? Anger?

Pretend you are up on the stage in a play. Your readers are the audience. A great scene will keep them in their seats. A great play will have them return for your next staring role.

Don’t just write the scene, own it!

In all the world there is not a single soul exactly alike. Though there be twins that are identical in appearance and sound, below the surface there is an individuality that simply can not be discounted. Their thoughts may be similar at times but for all intents and purposes they are indeed two separate identities.

So to the writer is handed down the task of taking from life and adding traits. We must create in a single story many characters. Each must sound like one unto himself. The reader will not accept two characters with even a hint of alikeness. Thus we must be ever diligent to keep our own thoughts from creeping into that of our characters. We must add that special difference that signals to the reader that we have switched characters.

If we do our job correct, we could technically get away with writing an entire novel without ever using the aid of tag lines. We would never have to use a character’s name as a reference tool. Our readers would know exactly who was talking. They would understand so perfectly what the character wanted that we would hardly have to do anything. Or at least it would appear that way.

By no means is this a simple task. All of us are prone to write the same character in multiple stories. Yes, we change the characters name and sometimes we even change a gender but it is oh, so easy to fall back into what we have just finished and rewrite the same character’s story. All we would really be doing was changing a setting and time-frame. This we can not do. We must be diligent. We are writers, storyteller and artists. We translate to our readers what is going on. Without our lead, they would be lost. We can not allow that to happen. Do whatever you must to ensure that all your characters sound different and that in the end, they come alive.

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