bit of advice on character building that I would like to share with
you today.First off, creating a character bio has turned out to be a huge help
for me. I thought I knew my characters. I had been around them for
over a decade, I know them so well. And yet, when I started on their
bios, I actually learned even more about them!
It’s all very exciting.
So I wanted to share the three dimensions in creating your character
bio thanks to Mr. Frey:
Age, weight, shape, appearance, whatever. Even if it may not be
useful in the story, put it in there. Because society shapes a
person’s personality based on their appearance. Here are some
examples that he uses:
“Where would Jim Thorpe have been, for example, had he been born with
a club foot? or Marilyn Monroe, had she turned out flatchested? Or
Hank Aaron, had he had a withered arm? Or Barbra Streisand, a small
voice? Obviously, not only would their choices of profession have been
affected, but their personalities would have been shaped differently
as well. A small man cannot “throw his weight around” as a large man
can. Pretty or ugly, short or tall, thin or fat—all of these physical
traits affect the way a character would have developed, just as such
physical traits affect real people.”
up in. Where did they go to school? What were their parents like?
What were their parents views on politics, sex, or money? Did they
even have parents? If not, where did they grow up and what was the
overall atmosphere in that place? This also helps shape your
character in the same way that it helps shape a real human being.
two. As a result of their appearance and societal upbringing: what
makes them tick? What are their fears? Desires? Fantasies? Phobias?
IQ? Special Talents or Soundness of Reasoning?
journal in the voice of your character. This is said to be helpful in
creating a villain. This will help you find their voice and they even
reveal some odd skeletons from their closet that you didn’t think
surrounded by these characters for well over ten years. They are
still surprising me today.
I wrote one character with the intent of making a love triangle for my
characters Rei and Bronx. It really wasn’t much of one since Rei
wasn’t interested in Maitrun in the slightest. I thought I could try
my hand at it but nope. Big fat no. Honestly, I will be putting
those two through enought so adding a third person to the relationship
felt like overkill.
But then what would I do with Maitrun? I couldn’t get rid of him
completely because he actually plays a role in some of the story
linens, but I couldn’t figure out what more to do with him after the
first book. Maitrun is not important enough to be a main character,
but he has a role to play. I guess, in a way, he was just not a
character that I was that invested in.
What was he like? Well, I tried to make him like Rayne Summers from
the online comic ‘Least I Could Do.’ I like that kind of crass humor
and even though he is a womanizer there is something about him that I
find loveable. Unfortunately only Rayne can be Rayne. I can’t
recreate that in a way that would work in my story…in fact I can’t
recreate Rayne at all. It turned out pretty bad. Then I thought back
to a similar character – Nichols from ‘Orange is the New Black.’
She has a similar sense of humor and sometimes can be a little
offputting but she really cares about those close to her and always
makes the effort to show it. Another similar character is Captain
Jack Harkness from Doctor Who/Torchwood. See the pattern? Granted
Nicky is a lesbian and Harkness is an omnisexual (he’ll have sex with
anything) I loved how they stuck out in this world of straight heroes
and heroines. Your sexual orientation is not a prerequisite for
heroics and overall badassery. I know that they are both major flirts
but that’s because they just love to love.
Then I also remembered this movement that has been gaining momentum
over the last several months: #weneeddiversebooks. I have always
agreed with this statement long before the movement emerged. In Book
of Tas’und’eash I made one of my heroes a Nigerian named Latif
because I didn’t want my heroes to be so white washed. It’s not like
I meant for that to happen. In fact, I don’t think most authors do
that. But once I became aware, I decided to put changes where I
So I came to the decision that Maitrun would now be a lesbian.
However, what would I call her? I had been wanting to come up with a
cool badass chick called Bernadette only because I love nickname
Bernie for a girl. Et voila! Bernie!
Suddenly this character had new life for me and I could come up with
more things for her. I am very excited. On the whole, integrating
Bernie more into the story will really be the only major change that I
have to tackle in Volocio. But the payoff will be totally worth it.
What about you writers out there? Have you tried to write a character
that’s outside the normal?
Until next time,
So I decided as a writing exercise that I would challenge myself to the weekly writing challenge. What better way to work on my writing than to write on a subject that does not come from my own cranium.
For the current week, this was the challenge: to write about perspective…..
- For our fiction writers, cultivate a character. Through your imagination, pinpoint a common theme in his or her life, and show us how your character’s perspective changes as he or she grows older.
What actually came to mind was my first real fleshed out character: Rei Ettowa.
She is one of the main characters from The Rebirth Trilogy. She is the reincarnation of a Micaela Roya. Both women have very rich and unique back stories but one thing I touch on in Rebirth is that while one is the reincarnation of another, that does not mean they are the same person.
But this is not what I want to talk about.
I first came up with Rei when I was about twelve or thirteen; I also made her the same age. I have always stuck with the old addage: write what you know. I knew what went through a thirteen-year-old’s head because I was thirteen. When I did my second re-write in college not only did I grow up but so did Rei. I increased her age to twenty where she remains even though I am twenty-seven now.
As I was growing up, I realized that I needed Rei to grow up as well. In order for her to realistically face the hardships she will face in her adventures I needed her to be more mature. I still have her to be young and naive thus twenty being a great age for the first book.
Rei lost her parents when she was young and was raised by a woman called Hotara. Rei may not have had biological parents but she was never lacking in parental figures. She did have an older brother, Niklaryn. She loved him dearly but rarely got to see him because he had become a knight and was off in the civil war. He also died when she was thirteen and she never completely recovered from that. By twenty, she had worked in the family bar and dealt with ruffians and bedouins in her travels a cross the desert. She will also dabble in what will be the great love of her life but (like myself) she does not truly understand the seriousness of it all until she grows older.
In the second book, I let age a few more years pass to where she is 24. When I look back at how I was at ages 20 and 24, I was completely different people. At twenty, I had just reached adulthood and I was in my second year of college. I was more mature than a freshman but I had never quiet experienced love but I knew how to have fun. But by twenty four, I had had my heart broken a few times and faced difficult stresses in life of finishing college (as long as I didn’t fail genetics) and finding a job and living on my own for the first time.
There is a chance that I may make her older still but while I am not working on that book I am nothing thinking about it. As a twenty seven year old, I have gained even more wisdom than when I was twenty four. I have gained more experience living on my own and have finally experienced a great love; such experiences will help my writing. Again, I still write what I know.
His name came from the movie: The Medicine Man. Sean Connery plays a doctor in the Amazon who is joined by another American Doctor. Our Scotsman decides that he will not call her by her first name. He wanted to give her a tribal name, a nickname. She came from the Bronx, New York…thus her nickname was Bronx.
When I was first writing the story, I had another name for the Underworld. I had called it Styx (after the River Styx in Greek Mythology). For a sense of symmetry, I wanted to give my Death Volocio a name that would fit….essentially a name with an ‘x’ in it: Bronx.
Obviously, the Underworld is still the Underworld, but Bronx is still Bronx. His physical appearance has always stayed the same: pale skin, dark hair and dark eyes. The reason for it? I figured that anyone whose power was death would be dead-like, as in lacking color of any kind. Thus the pale skin but dark hair and eyes….like someone who walked out of a black and white movie.
A few years ago, I went with some friends to see “Prince Caspian.” I didn’t think much of it at the time…but near the end of the movie it dawned on me: the actor playing Caspian looked EXACTLY how I imagined Bronx to be.
I had to look up this actors…who was he?
I know he may be very different than your idea of what Bronx looked like. I think Ben is pretty enough 😉 If my book ever becomes a movie (preferably a tv show) I would want him or a younger looking version of him playing the role.
I came up with his power around the time (note that I was about 14-years-old when I created this character) I had another wild obsession: Sailor Moon. Along with Sailor Moon – I loved to read fan-fiction. Mostly on Sailor Jupiter (whose power was lightning…sound familiar?). I found a fan-fic that someone wrote about a new Sailor Scout: Sailor Styx. It was a Sailor Scout who controlled death and was a love interest to my Lita. Make your own judgement on the story but it inspired me to create a love interest for Rei who controlled death.
On this recent draft, I decided that I wanted Bronx to have angst…however, I wanted to give him a reason to be fucked up. Thus I gave him a craaaaazy background. The story of his birth (the whole mother having an affair with her father-in-law) was inspired by a family member while the mother abandoning him at such a young age was from the parent of a friend. Then I decided to insult to injury by having him thrown in a mental hospital. Put all that together and you have one fucked up character. Take that Edward Cullen! Now whenever Bronx broods…there is a reason behind it…in fact, you can be amazed that he is still a somewhat functioning creature in society.
Anyway, that’s all I have for Bronx for now. But I wanted to give a little insight into his creation.
until next time,
So one of my dear friends from High School (and inspiration for the character of Hotara) is going through Volocio. She has an English degree and studied publishing laws. She’s awesome and I’m ever appreciative of her feedback. She’s been sending me several e-mails over the last few days with positive reviews….but then again, she has admitted to being an unbiased reader. 😛
This lead me to remember how Hotara came to be where she is as a character:
When I first started to write Volocio (which was called So It Begins at the time), I originally had all thirteen Volocio die and be reborn. Imagine that. Thirteen characters, each with their own plot lines. Yeah, I couldn’t do it. When it came down to the re-write, I had to make an awful decision: cut characters.
I couldn’t do it. I loved those characters, but I didn’t know what to do with them. Then I came to the decision that I didn’t have to cut them, just change their roles. Hotara is no different. I’m not gonna say what she was before…or what her role is now, but she will play a bigger part in the story to come. I’m glad that I made her Rei’s mother. You may not know her now, but trust me. She. Is. Awesome. 🙂