Friday, June 24, 2011

New Idea for Creating Characters Out of Thin Air

Something strange has occurred recently to me. Let's call it Writer's Block (although it's probably more akin to procrastination from an overdose of stress). And, as we all know, Writer's Block comes as monsters in all shapes and sizes, not just the cube with eyeballs I usually vision it to be. The little monster dangling around my neck of late roadblocked the way I conjure up characters. Some would say that's horrible. I, however, would disagree. It has forced me to find an alternative to my classic way. And this may actually be a turning point for me as a fiction writer.

My Previous Method And Why It Didn't Work
I used to write characters up as I would go. The characters would come across some type of conflict that I would throw at them, and somehow they would be able to overcome the situation. Writing like this works for a scene or two, but it doesn't function so well for a short story with several scenes or anything slightly longer than that.

And lately I haven't even been able to write like that, making up characters as I go. I can't even see the shape of the characters, and usually they would just take form. This didn't begin to bother me until just the other day. I wanted to find something to restore my ability to make characters, so I looked online to see if I could find anything of use. Nothing was able to address my problem directly, but I did find something that could help.

The Fix to My Character Conundrum
One of the first pages I found after the Google search was Holly Lisle's do's and don'ts of character creation. She recommends writers to not worry about physical descriptions or names at first because they may be influenced by people the know who look like that or have a similar name. It's perfectly fine if a writer is basing her character on a certain person. But what if she wants to create new character with his own unique personality traits? Then she would have to look deeper. And finding the core of a character can be quite difficult if there already exists a couple of layers to sift through.

This is where the new method comes into play. Instead of starting with a physical description or a name, Lisle suggests starting off with what a character wants most in the world and what that character wants to avoid. Everything else about characters should be crafted around these two main values. The world the characters live in will be seen through their main values. Every conflict they come across will be resolved (hopefully) through that perspective. Plus, knowing a character's goals and aversions from the start will aid in helping to know what he wants in the end and the conflicts he will have to overcome to get to his destination.

I'm hoping i'll be able to create some gnarly characters with this. Maybe it could even help me in finding some truly amazing character flaws to make my characters much more vivid and believable in my readers' eyes. But most of all, I hope it helps me get out of this little rut I've been stuck in for a while.

No comments:

Post a Comment