Hi friends and writers,
Today I’m privileged to have permission to blog an enlightening post from one of the many writers and publishers who I follow.
This blog I have found to be thought provoking, and extremely helpful when writing my second novel of a series. Enjoy.
See you next week,
Introducing Jennifer Roush from SmartyPantsPubs.
Characterization and Character Description and Character “Voice”.
All of these get conflated, but they are each different. First, let’s describe what these are NOT:
1. These are not detailed physical descriptions of your characters.
2. These are not infodumps about your characters.
Character “voice” is how a reader recognizes your character, even if they were dressed up as someone else. It’s not just words, it’s an impression. And it can be related to physical characteristics, which is why it gets confusing. Consider these:
A tall man, wide in the shoulder and chest, whose pecs seem to square off at whomever he addresses.
A tall man, narrow-chinned, seemingly tucked in around that lack of chin, as if he could hide it, and himself, if he just curled in tightly enough.
Now you add some habitual actions. Everyone knows that girl who takes every comment as an insult. Everyone knows that guy who turns everything into a sex joke. Everyone knows that kid who smiles at everyone they meet. Everyone knows a snob.
Now you add some habitual phrases or motions. Ones that support some kind of personality trait, that is connected to some kind of physical trait.
Ron Weasley says “Bloody Hell,” because he catastrophizes everything, because he is poor and red-headed and considered by society and himself to be unworthy and incapable.
Harry Potter says “Hang on,” because the world is not what it appears, because he thought he was a Muggle, was treated as a disgusting secret, and was really actually famous and desired. He has a scar to remind him of his status.
Claire Fraser says things like “Right,” because she’s a doctor and she needs to compartmentalize and get to business. She has flyaway hair: independent, unruly, never covered. It reflects her as a person.
This is why someone’s personality now directly ties to their physical description. So the pieces of their bodies that matter to the reader are the details the reader can tie to the impression of the character they already have.
This goes a little deeper: the personality quirks are generally based in world-views that direct how the character behaves long-term in the story, and creates those patterns.
Try the below.
My character wants ___________ in my story.
Their belief that __________ always ____________ gets in their way.
The way they put _______ over ____________ all the time doesn’t help them.
Because they do these things, they feel that the world/people are ___________.
This makes my character most likely to respond to ___________ with _____________.
When they do that, they say ________________. And they _____________ (Physical action).
It’s really noticeable because they physically have ______________ that really calls attention to their ____________.
In general, though, they’re this kind of person: _______________ but they also have _________________.
Here’s an example:
My character wants equality in my story.
Their belief that equality always looks the same gets in their way.
The way they put others over themselves all the time doesn’t help them.
Because they do these things, they feel that the world/people are very unfair.
This makes the character most likely to respond to limits with a sense of personal injury.
When they do that, they say, “Hey!” and they take action to set things “equal.”
In general, though, they’re this kind of person: tavern wench, but they also have a traveling pack and a traveler’s knife.
Now, mine is a little oblique at this point: she uses the knife and the traveling pack to “set things right”. Which can mean cutting the hair off a man so he looks like his sick brother, tying a quarreling couple together for a day so they can each experience the other’s reality, and threatening a group of men until they piss themselves with fear like the kid they were picking on. But you know, the minute she says “Hey”, that something is going down.
Later on, she realizes that SAMENESS is not EQUALITY, not really, not deep down, and she’ll modify what she says to “hey now.” She’ll think it through. But not until the end of the story. And she’ll NEVER be aware of this change. This is something only for the reader and the character’s brother.
What about your characters?
Can you tie their beliefs to their behaviors and then to their looks?
Can you tie a quirk in personality to a physical object or trait?
Would someone recognize your character if you changed their clothes, eye color, hair color, etc?
SmartyPantsPubs. Published on Facebook in November 2017
Many thanks Jennifer.
To you my followers, as November closes, and December opens, I encourage you to have a rewarding week.
As for me?
I’m looking forward to signing off the final cover and manuscript for my rewrite this week, then republishing early December. A long journey, but definitely worth it. Meanwhile I have pushed the word count up by competing in the Nomowri challenge, clocked up in excess 100,000k words on the second of The Fortune Seekers Series, pushing the release date a few months ahead.
More on that later,
#writer-writing; #learning; #TheFortuneSeekers; #questions; #answers; wholesome-novels; # rewrite-done; republishing