Developing A Character

For me, developing a character isn’t about using character sheets. It is neither about using spreadsheets. Both those methods never worked for me and for me, if you are a writer who finds yourself doing badly at it, then this is a post for you. 

When I write characters, to develop them, I usually use these three methods. Which I always find interesting, as it highlights and interesting aspect of a certain character. Or a certain reason why they carry around certain objects, chooses to dress in a certain way. 

To me, characters sometimes cannot be left to a structured street. It has to be organic, free of any influence at all. And here’s what I do. 

#1 Write Dialogue In Their Voice 

Sometimes you don’t need to go so deep into their heads, dialogue is enough. This works especially for characters who view the world in a completely different light, or are incredibly witty that the dialogue is more than enough to tell that. And this can be your eyes only, and can help to figure out some aspects which works so well for me. 

#2 Write Notes Like A Biography

Whenever I want to write a character, sometimes I do this. Sometimes the characters may only have a couple chapters, how do I show and outline their personality well enough. I write notes, like a biography except that it can be written hilariously, or in any way you want to. It can be like a journal, reflecting your character’s voice, perspective. Or it can be how you view them. It can be also about their personality. This isn’t just about listing down all facts, you can go into detail for some of them, and they can be quite fun. It all just depends on how you write them, and they can stay private and never see the light of day. 

#3 Try Writing Letters 

This is the best way for me to develop relationships, especially when I start chuckling at how it will be. These sort of things can reveal a lot of aspects of their relationships, and give it a deeper depth. And help you in characterization around certain characters, when they are around some others. 

Or perhaps whether it was strained at some point, another where one knew a lot more about. I would say that this depends a lot on how you write, how your characters are. 

This are basically all my tips to develop characters, this are really what works for me. I’m not a full planner, the way I plan is organic and free. Since I find myself finding that certain aspects of a character sheet are redundant and some are missing which I needed so desperately. Do tell if you have any other tips, or differing opinions. There are many ways to develop your characters, and this is just one of them. 

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What is Originality?

Is originality in writing a completely new concept. Or a new view on an existing concept. I would say it is the latter. Nothing is new under the sun, every book has borrowed from somewhere. And so does your work too. 

So, where does creativity come in? In how we display the world, how we explore it. What do we think of it. That is originality, since no person would have the same viewpoint. And this is where we differ. Each writer looks at things differently, would approach certain subjects differently. Otherwise, there would be a lot of ripoffs as it is. Since almost every story has borrowed elements from here and there. 

As such, originality is all about you. Your opinion, your idea of a theme. Even for a retelling, every retelling has its differences. Every retelling examines a story differently. Just look at Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge and A Court Of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. Those are retellings of the exact same fairytale but they have a lot of differences too. And this is where creativity and originality comes in. 

So, don’t worry about your story idea not being original. Present it your own way, or tackle it at an angle no one else has thought of yet. Regardless of whether it’s original or not it will shine in its own way. 

Even for works that are inspired by many things, think of it this way. You are merely inspired, not extracting plotlines and exact sentences. You can make your own twist, you can change things. Because creativity is found when you insert something of your own and make it fit. 

So, don’t worry about it being original or purely you. It is all about your opinion, the way you see the story and the world. It is basically also an interpretation of a certain work, genre or theme. 

If you have a different view on originality, please leave it down below. Originality, is a rather difficult topic to discuss and I would like to hear your views. 

On Finishing A Novel 

I typed the last word of my first novel a few weeks ago. And I knew what came next. Editing. But I decide that it should be saved for another day. And I know it is the hardest thing to ever accomplish for a writer. 

Finishing a novel can be one of the greatest joys, I was so happy when I typed the last sentence of my first novel. After three failed tries, this was the charm. I made it to the end, after two years of struggling to finish a work. 

There isn’t a joy much like finishing your first novel, no matter how much you know needs to be revised again. Or edited again. But the joy cannot be shaked off, it’s not something everyone can do. Not something everyone can actually finish. And it takes an insane amount of determination to be writing and at the same time, not give in and try to edit the words. That can be done later.  

This is more of a personal experience, since I do count finishing a novel as a milestone. But I think that with my three failed tries and attempts before getting something, there are some tips I would give to those who are still in the midst of this. And what I feel is helpful advice. 

#1 If It Doesn’t Work, Don’t Push It 

This is the best advice I could give you, if you feel as though that work doesn’t work well together. Or you simply cannot find the inspiration to push on, forget about it. Just drop it and leave it at the side. Don’t push yourself, or the work. Chances are, you are going to stuff it down the drawer at the end. You aren’t going to flip it and look through. 

Just follow your heart when your Just tell you it’s time to stop. Trust me, you wouldn’t end up having too many wasted words and time.

#2 Take Your Time 

Take your time, don’t rush it. When you are writing your first work, you are simply testing the waters here. Don’t push yourself or you will burn out. I was writing at a slow pace for a long time, before it picked up last year and this year. My schedule was insane, and it was insane to push myself so much. But at the end of it, I found myself being able to meet it and finally finish a work. Now, I’m slowing things down for my exams and just taking a more leisure pace here. 

But just take your time, I barely survived that insane schedule I set myself too. And plan your work out, you wouldn’t want to end up forgetting an important detail or hit a wall you can never overcome. 

#3 Forget About The Past 

Don’t worry how bad your words at the beginning are. There are still a lot more things you need to cover, such as foreshadowing, plotting. All this also needs to be added in, and chances are, unless you have written it all. You probably wouldn’t know. And all those hard work with editing the sentences would once more go to naught, and starting from scratch all over again. It makes a lot more sense to focus on finishing a work, before focusing on all the smaller details. 

Overall, this are generally my input on finishing a novel. Through years of experience, failed attempts this are what I managed to gather. But if you feel differently, please tell me. 

Making Characters Realistic

Realistic characters are really difficult to create, and really difficult to handle. Even if they lack the sort of heroism that most protagonists have, but when they are done well I like them a lot more than before. 

Why? 

Because it means that they aren’t immune, they also have an awareness about them. It makes them relatable, because they do not want to lose their head. If they selflessly sacrificed themselves each time for the other, I will be more likely to end up scratching my head as to what it happening. And I would find them to be Jesus instead of real people I can love and believe in. 

So, what are my tips for making characters a little more believable. 

#1 Making Then Choose 

There is nothing more difficult than handling this, since a lot of times we would have a really good relationship with all the main characters. We find them likeable. But moral dilemmas would happen, dilemmas about what to choose and whether they should simply just accept and move on or fight it. 

It is giving them two difficult choices with endings that can turn out to be less than ideal. It can be endings that has a risk. And that is what makes them believable, when they are making a tough decision. When they know that there is no easy way out and there is no way to eat the cake and still have it. And having them to make a choice, a personal sacrifice to either this or that. 

#2 Making Them Suffer The Consequences 

Every action would have a consequence, that is something that we cannot change. And it cannot have them only have a light slap on the wrist and that’s it. 

I really like books which don’t let the characters off easy, they suffer but they survive. That is the whole point of being a main character, who wants to read about a main character who has a perfect life with almost no obstacles. No problems. 

That would be boring isn’t it? So make it hard, make them lose something precious to them. Make them suffer through the ordeal. As we said, something that does not kill us makes us stronger. 

#3 Knowing their mistakes and redeeming themselves

It is important that mistakes are fleshed out, mistakes are brought up. And redemption is earned not given. I would prefer that most characters know their actions would have an impact on the surroundings. That it won’t end in happily ever after for them. And I like happy endings which are earned rather than given. 

And that the characters need to work for their redemption, they need to do a lot just to have that. People are quick to hate and slow to forgive, and making characters take a long time to earn makes it believable and plausible. Or perhaps an apology from a character that never feels as though he has done anything wrong. 

Having them do all this makes it really believable as we all have done something wrong in our lives, we all have disappointed someone. So, isn’t it correct to have them redeem themselves and try to earn it. That makes it a lot more believable than just apologizing and it’s all forgotten. That would be impossible. 

These are all my tips when it comes to making characters more believable. If you have any more, feel free to leave them below, I really want to hear from you regarding this. 

What Makes A Fantastic Antagonist?

To me, a villain can make a book as much it can break it. A horrible villain is one whose motivations are nil, or are just plain horrible. Or if it passes the logic test, simply doesn’t have any reason to why he would pursue it. 

My favourite kind of villain are those who simply use the wrong methods but have a dream that could have been achievable. Or really makes the protagonist doubt himself and his beliefs. 

A villain should simply stand on the other end against the protagonist. He should always have a goal. He should always have a real motivation, and one which can be explained through his back story. 

So, here are some of my tips when it comes to making a villain.

#1 Figure Out His Personality

This is the first and foremost you should do, a villain can be extremely sympathetic should he be characterized well enough. Such as his motivations for it sometimes he could also be seen doing something good. Sometimes he has pity, because the person reminded him of someone who showed him warmth in the past. Their personality can also be what pushes them onto the dark path in the first place. 

#2 Linking His Back story to his actions 

Each one of us sometimes does decisions because of something we have experienced. And most of us have certain traits that we picked up from our past selves. So, this is important. A logical motivation can be supported by his experiences and push him to the brink. And at the same time make it plausible that he could have become a hero instead, or he could have chosen not to do all the horrendous deeds he has done. 

Motives are everything basically to a villain. And they should justify what they have become, and why they became like that. Their personality is one driving force, and their backstory simply justifies the rest. 

#3 Include Some Redeemable Traits 

This is important too, since no one can be completed black or made of nothing but the black abyss. There has to be something good about them, even if it is only a semblance of it. But it is still good. And that is important to making a villain more believable, that they simply made the wrong choices at the wrong time. 

This are all my tips on making a fantastic villain. And really, it all comes down to personality and backstory in my opinion. Even the opposition of beliefs too. But if you have any other opinions, leave it here. I would love to hear from you about what you think makes a fantastic villain. 

Making A Character Three-dimensional 

This can be one of the most difficult to pull off, and even sometimes I can barely pull it off. Making three dimensional characters is a must in almost any book, if you ask me. But it is also the headache for many writers, even me to an extent. 

The first thing which I would say would help make your characters three-dimensional is giving them a flaw. Or a number of them. Some small, some big. And enough to make them believable to a reader. Having one flaw can be quite boring, but a few where they would need to rely on others is more suitable instead. And one might just lead to their downfall. 

Another is develop details, sometimes certain quirks or details help to make a character have a little more depth. Even more so when why did they eventually develop such a habit, it can be quite fun to invent the various back stories constructed in such a way to make them so. 

Their quirks and habits, must reflect their mindset. Or at least give a nudge that there is a lot more than what meets the eye, or even any disabilities they might have. Not shove it into the reader’s face or simply mention it but also show it in some ways that they are as such. 

And most importantly, is to have another side to them. Rather than the usual characters personality, show a little more to them. It can make the book a little funnier, a little darker, a little more deep. Also, it must be a smooth transition or hinted from early on that they might have such a side or personality. Only that it is hidden from them. 

Most importantly, is to always be honest with the character you have and their motivations, their goals and their morality. Show what their mind is thinking, show what kind of actions they would take. And also, let their actions and words define them, you can justify it from their point of view but they should never change or become a gentler version of what they should have been. 

It is also to portray them in their true colours if they are main characters. Otherwise, they wouldn’t even sound like themselves anymore, just hypocrites if done unintentionally can be rather off putting. 

So, do you have any other ways to make a character three-dimensional? Feel free to leave it below, it is always welcome. 

Improving Your Craft

To others that might include a lot of steps. But to me, I guess the main idea is to write, write and write. You probably wouldn’t know what sounds good on your first novel, but after countless tries, your work would sound better albeit still not perfect. 

But the most basic thing you have to do first is to write, write a first draft that is horrible, write a short story, write anything that doesn’t sounds right. Experiment. Just write basically. You won’t get it right the first time, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t later on. 

But like I said, you have to write. There is no simple way to go over it. Trust me, I thought that by reading writing tips my work will be a lot better than others. That my work would be a notch higher. Unfortunately, never worked out. You will only learn if you constantly write, and keep writing. 

And it’s simpler than having to attend workshops, courses on writing, which I have never even stepped foot into one. Although I used the internet for advice and tips, but at the end of the day it drill doesn’t help much with the exception of writing. 

If you want to say that failure doesn’t sound right to you, let me tell you that in this, you probably have to expect a lot of failures and disappointment. It’s in the life of a writer, when you get a critique that has a list long of suggestions where you can improve, trust me, it will happen and no work is immune to it, there isn’t an objective book in writing, only subjective. And you probably need to have something to show them, you can talk all you want about the book but if it doesn’t exist because you haven’t started writing then it is quite a waste. 

So, what are you waiting for? Just pick up the pen, as let’s face it, there is no perfect time to write a book, it’s either we do it now or we will never get around to it.