Writers Wisdom 101: Discovering Characters

Hello lovelies and welcome to 2019! As we make our way into this shiny new year, we’ve all been bombarded with opportunities to reflect and set new goals. One goal I have is to grow my craft, and I know from the countless posts I’ve seen from the Writing Community on Twitter a lot of people share the same sentiments.

So, to kickstart this goal, I’ve decided to start a new segment on my blog:  Writers Wisdom 101, a place where writers come to share lessons, insights, and motivation with others! 

I have an incredible lineup of authors with amazing posts to share, and I can’t wait to get them to you! So stick around for the series–there’s information here you won’t want to miss!

Discovering Characters

Author Candace Robinson - Clouded by Envy, Quinsey Wolfe's Glass Vault

As a writer, sometimes I wonder where my characters come from. I mean, in real life I’m super awkward, quiet, basically a bucket full of anxiety around most people. Not sure sometimes that I’m even meant for the outside world! For what goes on in my head I like to compare sometimes to the movie Inside Out and Split. I feel like even in real life, we as humans, or maybe just me, can act different around people. You may act one way around a friend, another around a boss, another around a stranger, and so on. So, sometimes I’m like who is the real me?

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When I sit down and write, the characters naturally come alive. So it makes me wonder, who is this person and where did they come from? Is it really a piece of me deep down that I didn’t know about? When writing antagonists, it makes my head brain dance crazily with questions. I know I’m seriously not a psychopath, I promise! But where do these villains’ personalities come from? Especially when I, or even let’s say Stephen King, can write them so naturally. It’s actually a scary thought! And let me just point out that I’m no where near Stephen’s King awesome level, not even one percent.

For me when I write, my most natural characters are the quirky ones which is weird because in real life I’m not a bouncy person by nature. I’m more like that homemade slime that kids make just standing there being a blob. Yet inside my head it’s definitely a quirky place, so why can’t I let the real person I so want to be come out? The thing is I can’t, so I choose to write and unleash these people onto paper. Even if you aren’t writing a book, maybe you’re writing in a diary. Do people still do that? Anyway, it’s a good stress relief to just write how you feel at the end of each day.

When it’s time to write my characters, I’m not a very outlined person. AT ALL! I don’t do huge character outlines. Basically, I put hair and eye color down and then I’m ready to rock and roll! I know this may not be the way for everyone, but for me the personalities just come out. There have been books, well probably all my books, where I either didn’t know how a character was going to be or maybe I did, but then as I started writing it came out a totally different way. Somehow, the character came alive or maybe he/she was always there. It’s a question that I don’t have answers to even though I know myself so well. Or maybe I don’t at all. The brain is such a unique place so even if you don’t think you can, just know that somewhere buried in all those neurons and muscles there are worlds and characters waiting to come alive!

If you don’t know your characters or come to a block when writing them. What I suggest doing is make a fun list for them. What is their favorite color? What is their favorite movie? What kind of music do they listen to? What is their favorite and least favorite memory? And so on. I swear you’ll discover some amazing things not only about them but about you! 

To a lot of people world building is pretty important, which it is, but I feel like having characters that feel real is something that should definitely be strived for! Without strong characters, a book is only pretty description or lovely writing. I want to feel what the characters are feeling—whether anger, sadness, joy, fear, and disgust. (Yes, I took the emotions from Inside Out)! But trust me, you can discover so many more. 

If something isn’t coming out the way I want it to, I take a step back from the computer, fiddle around with my slinky or read a book just to get my brain back on track. By letting my brain relax, I can let the characters rest and when I go back to writing, they feel as refreshed as I do. If I can do it, you totally can! Every time I write, I think that I don’t know what I’m doing! But that’s the thing, writing is an art form so there is really no wrong on what you come up with.

What do you think? Do you ever have a hard time discovering your characters? What tips or tricks do you use to learn more about the people inside your worlds?

Comment below with your best ideas-or the project you are working on that you plan to use your new character strategies on! We’d love to hear about your work!

For more opportunities to talk about your work, come visit the Twitter game #AuthorConfession, where you can share your secrets, find new favorite authors, and connect with amazing new friends! It’s always a ton of fun, and we’d love to have you! 

That’s all for now, but stay tuned–another great post is coming soon! But until then,

Happy Writing!

About Our Guest:

Candace Robinson spends her days consumed by words. When she’s not writing stories, she maintains a book review blog. Her life consists of avoiding migraines, admiring Bonsai trees, and living with her husband and daughter in Texas—where it can be forty degrees one day and eighty the next.

Want to know more? Connect with her on Social Media!

JM Sullivan

Teacher by day, award-winning author by night, J.M. Sullivan is a fairy tale fanatic who loves taking classic stories and turning them on their head. She has a passion for the writing community and loves empowering and encouraging other authors on social media with #AuthorConfession. When she’s not buried in her laptop, you can find her watching scary movies with her husband, playing with her kids, or serving homage to her cats. Although known to dabble in adulting, J.M. is a big kid at heart who still believes in true love, magic, and most of all, the power of coffee. If you would like to connect with J.M., you can find her on her website www.jmsullivanbooks.com, on social media at @jmsullivanbooks, or by joining the fun at #AuthorConfession--she’d love to hear from you.

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