INKSPILL Workshop (2) Creating Characters

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Creating Characters

Characters drive fiction, strong characters are crucial to fiction. Many of us borrow traits from real life, from hours of people watching, or (more riskily) from people we know. That famous line ‘be careful or you could end up in my novel’ couldn’t be closer to the truth for some of us. But the best characters come from a deeper place, to understand humans is to be able to create solid character.

We all know that we are not the same person throughout the day, characters are the same – it is not the personification of a moulded character profile + incident + reaction = fantastic, bestselling fiction.

The best writers get inside the character. It is a traditional exercise to place your character in unfamiliar situations and write their reaction. Common practise at creation stage can involve character profiles, pages of post-its, massive posters for each character etc. Many of you know how to create characters and work with methods that suit you. So I have attempted to construct workshop exercises that you can enjoy.

Let’s get ready to play.

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SECTION 1

I am going to suggest we start with family, for anyone that finds that difficult, use your own family, that tight circle of friends that you have adopted for life as your world. Your readymade family.

How likely it is that you could create characters from this base? Mix up their personality traits, change their names/ambitions/beliefs, physical appearance. Have fun, give them a tattoo, a complex anxiety.

PICK PEOPLE

Choose 2-3 of your family members and spend some time on a character mash up, have some fun with it. Profile them if that is what you’re used to or just write a couple of paragraphs to describe each character.

  • Post your writing in the comments below.
  • Or post a link to where we can find your writing if you want to share it.

084723-pink-jelly-icon-business-clock7-sc43 Take 20 minutes


SECTION 2

READYMADES

Of course many of us invent our characters, they are works of fiction and less likely to land us in court. Sometimes a character can appear swiftly, others (like butterflies) take their time to emerge.

Another source of character can be found in what we are already familiar with through film, television, books etc.

Think of a character – take the 1st one that springs to mind.

Make a few quick notes;

name, where character is from, physical appearance, personality, why you are drawn to this character, how the reader/viewer feels about the character, complex issues.

Now you have written that list, play with it.

You are going to create a new character based on a ready-made.

Again approach this in a way that feels comfortable for you, a couple of descriptive paragraphs, a profile…

  • Post your writing in the comments below.
  • Or post a link to where we can find your writing if you want to share it.

 

084723-pink-jelly-icon-business-clock7-sc43 Take 20 minutes


SECTION 3

Choose one of the characters you have created in this workshop, bring them with you now for SECTION 3.

A DIALOGUE

You are stuck in a lift (elevator) with your character, there is nobody else to talk to. The world is just you two. STOP – do not go changing the character you have chosen! Stick with it.

Write out a full conversation between yourself and this character.

DO NOT SCROLL DOWN UNTIL YOU HAVE WRITTEN IT.

creative commons girl-writing-full daniel sandoval,

What develops? Is there trust? What are the thoughts on the stressful situation, what worries occur?

The point of this is to see what other people see when they meet this person in your story.

  • Post your writing in the comments below.
  • Or post a link to where we can find your writing if you want to share it.

 

084723-pink-jelly-icon-business-clock7-sc43 Take 20 – 30 minutes


SECTION 4

PARTIAL RECALL

Describe that person you were stuck in the lift with earlier to a friend. What has been remembered?

  • Post your writing in the comments below.
  • Or post a link to where we can find your writing if you want to share it.

 

084723-pink-jelly-icon-business-clock7-sc43 Take 20 minutes

 


INSPIRATION

creative common writing

Finally, a word from Andrew Miller on character;

‘At its simplest, its barest, characterisation is about a writer’s grasp of what a human being is. When we set out to write, we do not do so out of a sense of certainty but out of a kind of radical uncertainty. We do not set out saying: “The world is like this.” But asking: “How is the world?” In creating characters we are posing to ourselves large, honest questions about our nature and the nature of those about us. Our answers are the characters themselves, those talking spirits we conjure up by a kind of organised dreaming. And when we finish, we are immediately dissatisfied with them, these “answers”, and we set out again, bemused, frustrated, excited. An odd use of time! An odd use of a life. But there’s a courage to it. Even, perhaps, a type of beauty.’

© 2015 Andrew Miller Source: The Guardian

meet room

 

We hope you enjoyed this workshop. The final workshop takes place tomorrow.

 

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One response »

  1. Pingback: Mad March | awritersfountain

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