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  • Lev Lyonne

How to Create Unique Characters.

As writers, it is important to realize that we are not going to be good at every aspect of writing. Some of us struggle with description. Some of us over or under write. Sometimes we cannot help using the same adverbs over and over again. For instance, I struggle a lot with weaving explanation into the story without info-dumping.


It is also important to recognize our strengths as writers. Some of us are amazing at natural dialogue. Some people can make their prose flow beautifully. Sometimes you can sit down and let the plot magically unfold. We each have our little, separate, wonderful writing talents and quirks.


My little talent manifests in my characters. I'm not bragging, I'm not saying "my characters are perfect and awesome" because they aren't. I still have a lot of work to do on them. However, I believe that I create unique characters that each have their own distinct voices, their own deep personalities, and their own way of standing out in a very big cast. (I have about 20 important characters, because I like making myself crazy.)


Today I'm here to talk about how to make your characters unique and how to make them pop off the page!



The Basics of Character


A character is just a person (or fairy or vampire or dragon or whatever). A character is someone who you have to get to know. Perhaps you want to know them as a friend. Perhaps as an enemy. But the fact of the matter is you're going to control what they say, so you have to know what makes them tick as a person.


You can do the basic character charts, but I find just a rudimentary one will work. What I really recommend is sitting down and writing out an "interview" with your character(s). I find this is a lot more effective because it allows you to get the backstory of the character, as well as interesting details that help develop them, AND you get a feel for their voice.


Build upon the basics of a person, prod them with questions, and just run from there.



Making Them Different


It is vital that every character is distinct from one another. This can be difficult, because you may have a certain style you write in, and that style can seep into the character voices. Some important things to remember while developing different characters:


-No two people in real life are the same. We are a very diverse bunch, there are endless personalities out there that can be explored.


-Everyone has a different way of speaking. My suggestion is to tune into how people talk. Listen more acutely in coffee shops, classrooms, waiting rooms, etc...picking up on speech patterns and such. This also applies to facial expressions and body language.


-Know that everyone has a different backstory and everyone reacts to things in a different manner. For instance, if two of your characters both run off to the circus, they are experiencing a varied version of the same thing, and will have different reactions. It is so crucial to know your characters, inside and out, so you can accurately write them.


Digging In Deep


When you are working on the first drafts of your book, it is okay not to know your character voices and personalities yet. It takes time to get to know a person! However, once you have a good grasp on what you think this person should be like, take the time while writing to craft their voices and to make sure you understand why they would do or say something.


Writing From an Unfamiliar Voice


When writing from a voice that is not your own, sometimes it can be scary. For example, if you're a woman writing in a male perspective (which I do), it is okay not to know everything about that perspective at first, but it is extremely helpful to do research. Look up certain things that might happen to that character. Talk to people and get their take on different experiences. Just like everything else, do some planning, digging, and discussing.



This was a fairly short post, but I think that developing unique characters is truly up to the writer. Understand that everyone is different and everyone in your cast has something different to contribute. No two people are the same, no two people should blend into one another.


Until next time,

Lev