“Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness.” ―Allen Ginsberg
Creating characters is a task all in itself when crafting a short story or novel. You want your readers to be able to visualize everything that you layout on the page. That isn't always an easy task, but somehow authors reach their goals and beautiful characters are thrown into the fiction world to inspire readers across the world. How do we complete this task? Simple, we put ourselves in the character traits. A little real, a little fiction and you have your creation. Sounds simple doesn't? Oh, it can be, unless you are me and stress about the details. Yup, guilty! Let me give you some tips and things I have learned over the course of the last four years of creative writing experience. Trust me, I have dabbled in other writing forms, but my true passion is creative fiction. I absolutely love creating worlds and characters.
If you are a new author or new to writing in general, let me be the first to tell you: putting yourself in your writing is one of the best things in crafting a story. By allowing yourself to fully dive into your project, you breathe life into the 2D world. You bring real elements, experiences, and emotions to the fiction genre. Don't be scared or intimated to use your own traits as your main character's personality or quirks. While writing you'll notice how your characters start to feel real because they are experiencing and feeling things that you have yourself or things you want to experience and feel in the future. Explore and create.
Tips - Treats - What've Learned
1. Always be yourself.
You want a story you can be proud of when it is finished, so why try to be someone else. Stay true to who you are. Your values and morals. Your likes. Your dislikes. Your dreams. Being an original is far more amazing than being a copy!
2. Don't be afraid to incorporate even your worst fears.
I learned this one while reading Haley Newlin"s YA Horror Novel, "Not Another Sarah Halls." She played on her own fears to create the intensity of Autumn's deepest fears. She drew from times in her life where she was very scared, which helps readers really connect to her main character. By allowing herself to face her fears, she crafted such a beautifully strong female lead.
3. Pay attention to your surroundings.
As I grow in my writing, I notice a lot more that is happening around me. For example, my best friend and I have certain things we say to each other or how we address the other in conversations. So, when I was basing a character off him, I put in those keywords he uses with me when he talks to my counterpart character. Writing about our friendship came naturally to me because I wrote about what I knew.
Fiction is the truth inside the lie. - Stephen King
4. Write about what you know.
We can all agree that writing about what we know comes easier than the unknown. Writing about the familiar does come with challenges, but my overall point is: start with what you know then dive into the unknown parts. Pace yourself, learn to dream without stressing yourself out on getting everything perfect.
5. Don't be afraid to tackle the unknown.
You have already tackled the knowledge you know, now try to create from what you aren't familiar with. This is where research comes into play. Many writers research places, traits, etc while writing so this isn't uncommon and a great technique. I love researching things I don't commonly know, so looking into a new place is my top favorite thing. Yes, writing your story and characters into the place can be challenging, but don't let that stop you!
6. Don't be afraid of editing.
I'll be honest, editing is an absolute nightmare for me. Why? Because I am my own worst critic. Let me tell you, I am not easy on myself in the slightest. I've learned that editing doesn't have to be scary because you are just fine-tuning your work. You aren't hating it, you are reworking and mending your story together.
7. Let life light a fire in your soul.
Let's be real, wanting to write is one thing, but actually writing is another. I have this problem all the time. I will want to write, but either I can't think of anything or I am in a terrible mood and feel no inspiration. Even if inspiration stood right in front of me, I wouldn't see it. Then, sometimes something lights a fire in your soul and sends you writing nonstop! For me, that was when my ex-boyfriend dumped me last year. While we were together, I was just writing poetry and had writer's block towards my novel, but a few days after we broke up, something changed and I wrote for four straight months to finish my novel. Finishing half a book in four months was a challenge, but I was determined to prove I was going to be okay if only to myself. It worked. A new fire burned in me and I made my dreams come true.
8. As long as you believe you can, you will soar.
At the end of a long writing day, all you have is yourself and your writing. Remember positive talk and nothing can stop you.
9. Keep positive sayings close by.
I love putting sticky notes either on my desk or around my room. It is a small reminder that I can be positive and it helps me through those tough days. Bad times will come, but you don't have to let them keep you down.
10. Let your life influence your fiction world.
Like I have said before, stay true to yourself and pay attention to your surroundings, but isn't it hard to write about all of that in fiction? Yes, it can be. It can seem scary and intimidating putting yourself into your fiction world, but it is worth it. Letting your life influence your writing helps you create deep and real characters, places, and situations. When I read back my novel, I notice little things that make me smile or tear up because I lived those moments or a version of them at one point in my life. It is a memory saved in the pages of a book forever. As writers, we don't let things go, per se, we write them down and remember what they gave us and taught us. We love a little harder, care a lot more, and dream even more. Don't let the fear of someone pointing something out, keep you from putting yourself and experiences into your fiction world.
11. Don't let writing a difficult scene scare you into avoiding that idea.
If we are being honest with ourselves we all get frustrated when writing a scene that just won't come easy. We scream, cry, and wonder why we can't catch a break. Seriously, it took me a whole eight hours to write one scene. You know what? That's perfectly okay! I talked about this with another writer yesterday - writing a scene with more than two characters is somewhat difficult. Is it not? With two characters, the dialogue just flows and feels less like a stage direction led scene. BUT, let me show you the bright side! Writing big character scenes can be fun! This is where placing yourself in the story helps you tremendously.
For example, I have a few birthday party scenes in my novel and this is how I talked it through with my writer friend, Jessica.
Unpacking what you want to accomplish at the party: Act like you are attending the party - who am I gonna talk to? Greets me? What kind of party is it? What's happening? Music? Is there cake and ice cream?
This also a research question technique, unpacking a series of questions can seem intimidating, don't let it be. Once you start crafting your scene, you'll notice how these elements start to mesh and flow together.
“Don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” ―Babe Ruth
12. Don't be scared to tell others.
We all have fears that people will hate what we are writing. Don't lie, I know you've felt it. We've all been there, and let me tell you, once you share your exciting news you'll have so much support. Having a support system is key. Why? Because it allows you to have someone else cheering you on, motivating you, and maybe even holding you accountable. Embrace everything and let at least those closest to you in on your exciting project(s).
Overall, I have learned to embrace everything about me - the good, the bad, and even the ugly. By allowing myself to truly open up, my writing has grown far more than I ever expected it to over the last four or so years. Never stop dreaming, my dear friends.