I’m delighted to bring you this guest blog post, today by Ditrie Sanchez:
‘How to write a killer character’ No, I’m not referring to psychopathic serial killers running on rampages through the jungle with machetes and baseball bats. I’m talking about the real deal: living, breathing characters. For some reason, ‘How to Write a Breather Character’ didn’t have the same ring to it.
1.) Know how the brain works. Read psychology books. Research articles online. Understanding how brains collect and disseminate information gives you a greater understanding of what it takes to build a realistic human being.
2.) You are not your character. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of creating autobiographical sketches. It can be thrilling to live vicariously through your characters. Resist the urge. Not only will it prevent your characters from all sounding the same, but it will also avoid that awkward moment when your mother-in-law asks why the main character shoved a bottle of mayo down her mother-in-law’s throat.
3.) Listen. Listen to how people around you talk. Go to someplace you’ve never been before and bring a little notepad. Jot down things you hear people say. Pick up the local lingo. Rinse, wash and repeat.
4.) Do your research. You need to know everything about your character’s world from their shoe size to their phobia of winking. Take in as much detail about their life, surroundings and dreams as you can. Write it all down. If you don’t know these things about your character, no one will.
5.) Talk to your characters. This is where writing can border on edge of insanity (refer to #1). However, this really works. If you want your character to be alive in your readers’ minds, they need to be alive in your own. Talk to them. Ask them questions. Don’t shove words in their mouths that they wouldn’t say. They find it very rude and get awfully offended; sometimes taking long, expensive cruises to Jamaica while you’re not looking. And that, my friends, is some precious writing time dreadfully wasted.
Morgen: Isn’t this great? Re. no 4, I sometimes give my writing group a table for them to fill in about a magazine picture I’ve given them. They have to list the person’s: full name, nickname, nationality, age, job, hair colour, height, weight, favourite music, favourite food, regular saying, relationship, children, siblings, religion, aspirations and perhaps the most fun, quirks. If you can answer all of these then you’re going to know your character pretty well. Thank you Ditrie! 🙂
Ditrie Sanchez is currently the Chief Networking Officer at Spectacle Publishing Media Group, LLC, which she cofounded. Traditionally unconventional: a Puerto Rican musician descended from several generations of visual artists, Ditrie Sanchez is a creative who calls historic Savannah home. She works in a variety of mediums, having had poems, short stories, comics, graphic designs and musical compositions published in sundry compilations such as “The Georgetown Area Magazine,” “The Inkwell” at Armstrong Atlantic State University and “The Aviator” at Full Sail University. She earned the Persse Composition award and the Presser Scholarship award for her musical efforts at Armstrong Atlantic State University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. in Piano Performance and Musical Composition. She recently completed her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Full Sail University.