Creating 3-D Characters: Week 1

Week 1: Characters & Dialogue

We learned a lot about creating original believable characters.  There were a lot of great insights on things to consider when creating characters.  Some of those gems included:

  • Study people
  • Listen to people
  • Know your character’s mind and psyche
  • Write about characters you feel passionate about
  • Create a distinctive voice for each charactershowdonttell
  • Do your research to make characters believable

We also touched on common mistakes that new writers make when creating new characters.  What I gained from that discussion:

  • Show, Don’t tell.  Well there’s a novel piece of advice.  Anyone who has ever learned the first thing about writing has been given that advice.  This class was no exception.  One of my favorite writers likes to share about a story he submitted that was returned with “SHOW, DON’T TELL” scrawled across the top.  He’s a bestselling author now.
  • The reader has to care about your protagonist.  If you don’t care, your reader surely won’t care.
  • You are not the main character.  This story isn’t about YOU.  Give us something more original.
  • Minor characters should never outshine your main character.
  • All the characters act the same.  If you re-read your draft and find that you can erase all of the names of the characters and not be able to tell who-said-what….that’s a big problem.

The final gem that stood out from class 1 is the Character “types”.  Most characters can be defined into one of four of the most common Hero types.  Of course there are other types and sometimes a character is a combination of types, but in general they can be divided as such:

  • The Idol Hero
  • The Everyman Hero
  • The Underdog Hero
  • The Lost Soul Hero

The titles make them pretty self-explanatory and I can think of a lot of examples of each type of Hero.  I found it interesting to look at my own characters and see if they “fit” some of the different types.

The Homework assignment was to create 2 characters and write a biography of each character.  We were lucky enough to have a character bio template sheet to fill in all the information we could imagine about our characters.  It included everything from physical description to favorites (likes/dislikes), ambitions, religion, psychological makeup, to present problem.  It was very insightful and thorough.