As a writer or author, you’ve had this great idea for a project with the perfect protagonist, the evil antagonist, the snarky sidekick, and gorgeous love interest. Yet, all of a sudden, the story falls short.
Your protagonist becomes cliché. Your antagonist is way to nice to do harm to your beloved main character. The love interest becomes whiny and annoying leaving your sidekick more sassy than snarky.
How can you make your characters believable enough that they actually exist? Easy. Hang out with them and talk. It’s rather simple. Date them, hangout with them as if they are actual people.
You created them. There are different ways to go about this. You can try the 20 questions method or “gloves off” method. Even though you created them, spend time with them. Put them in awkward, silly, frightening, and unpleasant situations.
Ask yourself, “How would my protagonists feel, act, or respond, if this happened to them?” or “What would happen if I put these two people on a trip in a car for 72 hours?” You are now developing a great character, and a better story even.
This can be a bit challenging, so set the mood. Go on a date with your love interest in the story, or put the antagonist with that sassy sidekick. The idea is to get you thinking about their personalities. It’s best putting two characters who hardly speak with one another.
Interview them as the author. Ask them questions; would they get sassy with you? Defensive? Or would they play along. It’s a great idea to do this especially when you hit a writer’s block. Create an interview project and writing. It doesn’t have to be like a Terry Gross, just ask a question.
Go as far as creating the entire scene of you and your character. Your character lounging on a chaise, with the coffee table and a box of tissues separating you both. You have your legs crossed, pen in hand, and flipping through a yellow steno pad as your character leans back, stretches out, and begin revealing their deepest, darkest secrets.
You get the picture. It’s a great exercise to do when you can’t write anymore or your writing is just flat. Good luck!
- Campell, L. (n.d.). Four Methods For Interviewing Characters. Retrieved August 26, 2016, from https://www.autocrit.com/editing/library/four-methods-for-interviewing-characters
- Getting To Know Your Characters: 1000 Character Development Questions. (2013). Retrieved August 26, 2016, from http://theathleticnerd.com/screenwriting/getting-to-know-your-characters
- The Writer’s Toolbox – Character Questionnaire – Gotham Writers Workshop. (n.d.). Retrieved August 26, 2016, from https://www.writingclasses.com/toolbox/character-questionnaire/gotham