Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Writerly Wednesday & A Writing Prompt: Creating Characters

Some writers are amazing at setting. Some have a knack for twisty-turny plots. Me? I love writing unique characters. And of course I have my own steps I like to go through when developing characters. So, let's do an awesome list post because I like those. In no particular order, here are 3 ways to really get to know your characters.

1. Make their playlist - It's no secret that writers like to make playlists for their books, and a lot of times, those playlists include songs that the writers thinks one or more of the characters would listen to. But we can take this a step further. Everyone has certain music they listen to when they are in a certain mood. Do you know what your character likes to listen to when they drive? How about when they're cleaning their room or exercising? Or when they've just had a huge fight with their boyfriend/girlfriend? Put those songs on your playlist, too. You never know what that could inspire.

2. Know their favorites - All of them! Food, song, color, TV show, movie, cuss word, cereal, Powerpuff Girl, etc...

3. Know their childhood - I don't mean "they grew up in the suburbs as the daughter of a divorced workaholic father." I mean "how did they get that small scar on their elbow when they were seven?" or "what was their favorite type of candy when they were ten?" All those little things you remember about your own childhood helped to shape you and they did the same for your characters. Also, once again, you never know what those things will inspire.

And here's where the writing prompt happens! Take a character, could be one you've written already, one you're working on now, or a brand spankin' new one, and tell me something about their childhood. Could be a scene or it could just be a scene in which they remember something.

For example, here's a small excerpt of something I'm working on now that came to me as I thought about what my character liked to do as a child (pardon the TOWNNAME thing, I'm horrible at names and haven't come up with one yet, lol...):
The town of TOWNNAME, Kansas, is flat. Flat in every way you could think of. The landscape is flat. The colors are boring. It's like the architects of every building didn't realize there were other materials besides brick. Hell, even the people are flat. Flat personalities, flat jobs, flat ideas. And if a person stays in this town too long, they start to become flat, too. It's like when I used to press flowers and leaves in big books. You take something that's three dimensional, that has tons of character, and you stick it in a book then close it. You let it sit somewhere for a long time and sheet after flat sheet combine to make this one heavy mass that crushes that once full-of-life flower.
So, what things do you do to get into your characters' heads? And please post your prompt or link to it in the comments!

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