Write Now Workshop Two: Build Character!
You've all read about the 20 Under 20 Writing Contest that Teen Voices is holding -- now, here's the second of our writing workshops to get your creative juices flowing. Journalist, author, and book critic Lucy Atkins gives YOU some pointers on how to develop a great fictional character.
All good stories have (at least) one great character "“ the person at the center of the story. This character should be someone your reader remembers long after they've put your story down. Your character has to feel like a real person. The reader must believe in her" or him," and also feel something about her or him "“ whether it's love, hate, amazement, or fear. If YOU get to know your character really well, then your whole story will come alive.
It helps to do some thinking before you even start writing a story. You don't have to know what your story is about yet. You don't have to have planned anything at all. This is your time to explore.
TIP: You definitely don't need to put all the information into the actual story! Some of this is just for you "“ it's a bit like getting to know a friend (or an enemy). You can do this for more than one character, of course. Remember, the more you know about the people in your story, the better.
Try this: Q and A
Sit down with a blank sheet of paper." Ask yourself the questions below and jot down the answers. You don't have to make this neat or careful or think too hard "“ just go with your gut. It's OK to scribble, draw pictures, spell badly, write in half sentences, and cross things out. This is just for you.
1." " " " " " What is my character's full name and age?" When's their birthday? Where were they born?
2." " " " " " Where does my character live? Who with? What does this place look like? (Is it a swanky downtown apartment, a family house in a leafy suburb, a shack in the woods, a treehouse, a dark dingy cave?)
3." " " " " " Does my character have a job, pets, hobbies, children, lovers, friends? If so, what are they like?
4." " " " " " What kind of personality is my character "“ quiet? Loud? Angry? Happy? Enthusiastic? Write down a few words you'd use to describe your character's personality if you were telling a friend about someone you'd met.
5." " " " " " What does my character like to eat and drink?
6." " " " " " What is their favorite color?
7." " " " " " How does my character dress?
Tip: Be specific. She doesn't dress 'nice' "“ she wears strappy red Jimmy Choos and Dolce jeans with jewels on the back pocket." Her dog isn't 'small', it's a tan and white Shih Tzu named Fred. " She doesn't drink 'coffee', she drinks triple-strength espresso.
Next workshop: How to develop a plot
Artwork: Works In Progress by Lilo Ginarte, 17
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