Friday, September 20, 2013

A Quick Tip on Creating Authentic Characters

Hi, lovelies!

I'm bouncing onto the blog today to talk a bit about character creation and a trick I've found useful in making my characters unique. I've never actually blogged about characters before, and a big part of that is because I don't have a specific formula for that like I do outlining or revising. I don't even have a method for choosing character names. It's all very loosey-goosey up there in my head, a lot of "Does that sound right?" and "Does that feel right?"

But there is one little trick that I've adopted recently to make them unique, and I want to share it with you today. 

I don't know about you guys, but sometimes it's hard to come up with flaws, strengths, and interests that haven't been done before (or haven't been overdone!). We've all seen the strong-willed, female lead that loves sports or the shy, kind of nerdy male love interest that plays video games. And there's a reason for that. In fact, we've probably encountered a lot of people like that in real life, movies, TV shows, etc. So our brains start attaching certain traits with certain interests and it gets difficult to think outside of the box, right?

Here's where the tip comes in, I promise. 

I'm a pretty visual person, so there are two different things I do when I want to come up with a new interest/trait for a character in question:

Tarot cards. I know this sounds weird, but hear me out. If you've ever looked at a deck of tarot cards, there are a ton of really cool, unique images on them. So when I started my latest WIP, I was looking for a unique hobby for my love interest, who isn't really an emotional guy. I picked one of those cards out of the deck and found that it had an image of a field, flowers, and trees all over it. That's when it dawned on me: How cool would it be to have this kind of burly dude be really into horticulture? Maybe he's in 4H club? And the ideas grew from there. (There's also a book called Tarot for Writers, which is fun and insanely helpful in figuring out how to use the images on cards to make memorable characters.)

Pinterest and Instagram. Sometimes I browse through random people's Pinterest pages, especially hobby or craft pages, to find something unique that my character could be into. I also browse Instagram's "most popular page" to see if there's anything cool in there. Sometimes I find a setting that would be an awesome backdrop for a story, or a picture of a girl that looks like someone I would want to write about, etc. I recently got some inspiration from a girl I follow on Instagram: She's fifteen, and she runs her own Etsy business, making little odds and ends like hair bows, mugs, and knitted sweaters. I thought that would be a kind of cool person/hobby to write about. In general, I've found these to be pretty great places to pull up random inspiration.

Anyway, I hope this helps. Happy writing, everyone!
Andrea Hannah is a YA writer represented by Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider. She writes stories about criminals, crazy people, and creatures that may or may not exist. When she's not writing, Andrea teaches special education, runs, spends time with her family, and tries to figure out a way to prevent her pug from opening the refrigerator (still unsuccessful). Oh, and she tweets a bajillion times a day, mostly about inappropriate things. 

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