Meeting Your Characters: A Non-Tutorial

What’s more important to any story than the plot? The characters. They’re the reason the story exists. Characters are what keep people reading. (Or watching if it’s a movie, or playing if it’s a game.) Whether we love them, hate them, or feel indifferent to them, the characters and what they go through are what create stirring feelings within all of us. We can relate to them. And perhaps if we can’t relate to them, we associate them with people we know in our own lives, and it only makes the story more personal to us. It allows us to relate to what the characters go through, and it adds that much more depth.

That’s why characters are so important, and this Non-Tutorial entry is going to be sort of a continuation of what I wrote about yesterday. If you’ll recall, I mentioned that my writing voice is a collaborative effort between myself and the characters in the stories I write. This is because characters, to me, are separate entities within my mind, personas of people I already know, and I’m simply the messenger who writes their stories. I’ll use my latest book, Black Crystal – The Origin as an example for today’s entry.

I think part of the reason why I wrote the original draft so quickly (it took about 27-28 days to write) was because I already knew the characters. In fact, I’d already known some of them for many years. The character Peter, one of the main protagonists for most of Part One was actually based after an old friend of mine from Elementary School by the name of Pierce. He had similar physical qualities including being unnaturally tall for his age, a blemished face, messy brown hair, and a relaxed demeanor. Of course, Peter’s story is deeper than this, but you get the idea. Like the main protagonist Garen, Peter was one of the orphans under the care of Bishop John Sleadd and Cleric Lucius, who remains a prominent main character in the sequel.

I never planned the characters out. They were already with me before I started writing the book. In fact, the character Bishop John Sleadd is only called John Sleadd about twice throughout the book because that’s not his actual name. For fear of spoilers in case any of you ever want to actually read the book (it’s for sale on Amazon.com for $15.00), I will go no further into this. My point is that his character turned out to be completely different in the end, and he’s the reason the story took an odd turn before I could even expect it. I let the characters take control; it was their story. All I was doing was writing it for them. I understood them the more I wrote. I entered their world and recorded what I saw, what they did, learned who they were… things such as that.

So, what exactly do you do in order to meet your characters? Excellent question, but as this is a Non-Tutorial, I can’t tell you. Just remember that your characters have minds of them. Accept that and listen to their story. Perhaps they’ll give you something worth writing about.

I’m gonna keep this short. Honestly, I’m pretty out of it today. I would prefer to curl up into a ball and cry myself to sleep, but it’s okay. I’m dealing with the day. I hope you guys can do the same.

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