I’m Pretty Sure I’m Real…

Real in the eye of the beholder, that is. This week, I’ve been asked to write a post on how to create 3D characters – so here goes!

When reading a story, characters are either 2D or 3D: They either are not real to the reader, or real to the reader. Ideally, you want your characters to be that 3D person, but sometimes they fall flat (aah, puns). So how to you make them pop up and make your reader feel like they really know them? Here’s a few tips:

  • Give them a solid back story. Everyone you meet, even a newborn baby, will have a back story. Maybe they’re adopted, or they are mainly normal but get abnormally good grades. You can even create a timeline for your characters, from their birth to their death, and fill in what happens in all the years of their life. If you click the link just above, it’ll take you to an example I found that you can use!
  • Make them have flaws – and make these flaws matter. No, not the flaws like ‘stubborn’. Well, I guess you can have those flaws, but make them have more flaws than that! Maybe they’re bad at school subjects? Maybe they act first, think later? What you also need to do with these flaws is make them matter to the story. For example, in the book I’m writing, my MC is terrified to riding – but to save a horse from going to the knackers yard, she has to overcome those fears and ride him in an event (cliche, I know). There’s no point in their flaw being ‘act first, think later’ if everything always works out fine!
  • Make them have quirks. Everyone has quirks. Maybe your character is superstitious and throws salt over their shoulder if they spill any. Maybe they salute magpies. One of my characters, Cal, always bites his lip and Alice tells him off for it. Make these quirks continuous throughout the book, if they’re going to be – or, if they have a dramatic character development, maybe they realise that they have to get rid of these quirks. Maybe they develop as a nervous tick. If you can’t think of any quirks, sit in a busy coffee shop, with a notebook and pen, and just people watch. You’ll be amazed.
  • Make them develop as a character. There’s no point in a book where the MC stays continuous all the way throughout. They change because what’s happening around them means they have to. Make sure that your story flows with these changes, too.
  • Make your descriptions of a character strong enough that the reader can easily paint a picture of them in their minds. Have them toss a strand of brown hair over their shoulder. Maybe they feel sweat on pale palms. They wipe a red, cold nose. They hit their head on the top of the bus, or can’t fit in the bus seats. For your reader to emphasis with someone, they have to have an image of them in their minds – and if you don’t make it, they will, and, to you, what they make might be wrong to how they actually are. For more info, click here!
  • Make their personality differ from others. That’s what makes your character stand out, and, if you look around, you’ll see that real life people have different personalities from their friends, too; their likes, dislikes, etc.
  • Eating, sleeping and pooping. I’m pretty sure I’ve done a post on this before – ah, yes, here it is. Just make sure you keep this one in mind.
  • Don’t rule out religions and other races. For example, a Satanic character. Or a character that is a black male, but isn’t as buff as most stereotypical books say. Don’t be afraid to research stuff like this, or ask about it. If you go to school/college, there’s bound to be an RE teacher that you can ask about religions!
  • Keep their actions human. If they’ve just broken up with someone they love, or someone they love has dumped them for no reason, they’re bound to be upset, for a few hours at the very least. If someone’s died, they are going to mourn. You want your characters to appear human, they have to act human. If they’ve just been sick, they aren’t going to be stuffing their faces in the next minute.
  • Make sure that they have a motive. And no, I’m not just talking about the bad guy here. Sometimes the good guys need a motive – if they think that there’s a high chance of dying shortly, are they really going to go to that war? Do they need someone to give them a push? *Cough*Coulson*Cough*.

I cannot really think of any more. If you need any more tips, look at your friends or family. What makes them seem real (apart from the fact that they are)? Do they try and do a good turn every day? Do they say a prayer each night? Carry around a notebook and jot down anything that you could put with a character to make them seem more real to your readers – because isn’t that just what you want?

Hope that helped!

Questions, hints, thoughts? Shoot. 😀

Character Imagery

Hi guys! Because I’m really tired, and I haven’t written in a while and am currently distracted, this post may be just a little bit fragmented. Apologies ahead of time, or whatever that sentence should actually be.

Sooooo today, character imagery! How do you make your characters look good to the reader – by showing, not telling.

Think of the most cliche way to describe a character in a book. For me, I think it would be describing in front a mirror, you know; the ‘I looked at my less-than-average features. Long, slick brown hair, piercing blue eyes. My nose was average, petite. I had a smattering of freckles over the top of them. I was an average height,’ etc etc etc. And then you have the cliche ‘I was less than average’, because, actually, they’re quite pretty.

So, how to do it better? First of all, don’t use a mirror scene. Second of all, drop hints. For example: “I hit my head on the bus roof on the top deck, and rubbed it as I sat in the seat, having to sit sideways because bus companies didn’t think that there were tall people in the world,” tells you that the character is, perhaps, a bit more than average tall, and is, perhaps, a bit bitter about it. Or, “As I was running, I pushed a spare strand of light brown hair from my eyes that had missed my grasp, and tucked it behind my ears,” this tells you that she has over than shoulder length light brown hair. ‘How do you know it’s more than shoulder length?’ you ask. – Because it ‘missed [her] grasp’ – meaning that the rest of her hair is tied up. Hehe, call me Sherlock Holmes. 🙂

So yeah, I hope that helped. If you don’t know how to describe your characters, then why not draw them, or, if you really really can’t draw, try a website called Doll Divine and find a decent ‘doll maker’ to design your character on, then just draw your imagery from them; although, no offense, if it’s your character, you should know them well enough to not even have to get up a picture of them to find out. – So you need to make sure you do your planning well.

If you’re planning, get a sheet, or something – and fill each thing in detail. For example, in hair, make sure you do the colour as exact as you can, the length (eg, it was down to her armpit), where the hairline sits, etc.

And if you’re a bit skeptical about using a design thing called ‘Doll Divine’, especially if you’re a guy, then have a look at some of these below, of my characters. If you click on the picture, it’ll link you to the maker. 🙂

Questions, guys? Shoot. Hope this helped.

Alice Frost :)
Alice Frost. 🙂
Janie Harrington. :)
Janie Harrington. 🙂
Leah - although she actually has already died in the book...
Leah – although she actually has already died in the book…
'The Gang' - not the best maker for my characters on this one, for example, both Oscar and Janie have fringes - but it'll do until I can draw them. L-R: Oscar, Scott, Janie & Alice.
‘The Gang’ – not the best maker for my characters on this one, for example, both Oscar and Janie have fringes – but it’ll do until I can draw them. L-R: Oscar, Scott, Janie & Alice.

To Draw or Not To Draw…?

Hallo! Who here is a good artist/likes to draw?

Because I would absolutely love to be able to draw all of my characters!

So, what’s my challenge for Christmas day? Be able to draw my characters with a pretty good degree of skill! Ha! This is gonna be a heck of a challenge. 😀

But, you know, I’m looking forward to it.

And I think that my main challenge is going to be the hardest: I want to be able to draw Matt Smith before, or on, Christmas Day with pretty good skill for a ‘Goodbye Eleven’ for Doctor Who!

Can’t wait.

Keep writing – NaNoWriMo finishes tomorrow! How are you guys going for it?

NaBloPoMo Index

How To Write Good Fanfiction – Longer Works

Well hey. Wasn’t Doctor Who just absolutely amazing?! EEEK! I saw it at the cinema and… wow. Anyway, on to today – longer works for fanfictions – although,  I guess these apply to fictions, too. 🙂 In fact, many of these do [apply to fiction]!

So, first off, when I mean ‘longer works’, I mean, you know, longer pieces of writing. Like, book length at the most – and more than, say, 3 chapters.  

A lot of people think they can write a book – but can they? To write a longer work, you need perseverance, a knack for taking criticism both lightly and to heart and, most of all, an awesome story line.

So let’s start with perseverance. Don’t start unless you think you can do it – you’ll just disappoint yourself, and, if you publish it along the way, your readers, too. If you don’t think you can do a huge story just yet, then why not try a oneshot (see below)? Or perhaps a two- or three-shot (when it’s two or three chapters instead). Make sure you stick with it; right ’til the end.

Step two: make sure you have a good plot. And, when you put it all together, make sure that most parts of every chapter contribute to the story in some way, be it character development, moving the plot forward or setting the scene. Oh, and if it’s fanfiction, make sure that you’re not just writing out a scene from the TV, cause that’s really not original. If it’s an alternate ending, then make sure you say that – but don’t repeat the scene before hand (unless it’s really really important to that plot).

Trois: I know, I know, although you want to get to the action and get your story out because it’s bubbling in your head, but spread it out. Don’t info dump everything in the first chapter – leave hints, and don’t make each of your chapters book length, either. Ending on a cliffhanger is good, too! Think of a book or good fanfiction that you’ve read, and note how the author manages to spread it out.

Quatre: bear in mind when you’re writing a fanfiction, the people reading it know and love the characters like their friends. So make sure that you write them well. If you’re not, and you know that they’re not going to be like the characters, make sure you notify them by putting ‘OOCness’ or something like that – which means Out Of Character-ness. Also see OC’s, below.

And then, finally, you’re at the end of your work – congratulations! Now, make sure that you end your story with a satisfactory ending for your readers. For example, if the Doctor has saved the day, you could leave it saying, ‘He flipped a switch on the TARDIS console, with a quiet muttering of, “Allons-y!”‘ Or, if you’re evil/whatever, you could leave it on a cliffhanger; such as, ‘The Doctor turned to the TARDIS. As he stepped over the threshold, where his foot had been, the ground bubbled.’ Now, this could be a cliffhanger – or simply marshy ground. Sometimes, it’s nice to let your readers decide. 🙂

Hope that helped! Questions? Do you like this ‘series’? Ask away! 🙂

NaBloPoMo Index

Others in the ‘series’:

How To Write Good Fanfiction – Own Characters/OCs

Wahayyyy!! Time to put the ‘fun’ into ‘fanfiction’ (…that didn’t exactly work as well as I hoped).

OWN CHARACTERS! Basically, making your own characters to put into the story! Great fun. But, your readers will only like them – and you’ll, most importantly, only really get good reviews – if they’re relatable, interesting and actually add to the story.

So, what makes own characters (I’m now gonna call them ‘OCs’) good? Well, here’s a few ways to do that:

  • Make them relatable. Give them a problem you can relate to – for example, if they were in the Harry Potter universe, perhaps they’re having boy trouble, or their brother has been kidnapped by Voldemort or something.
  • Make them interesting. Don’t make them shallow. Give them character. Let them have quirks. Maybe they swish their fringe every few minutes or so. Maybe they have a twitchy eye.
  • Make them have flawsYou have no idea how boring it is to read a story where the character can perfectly read every single language, or perfectly can do the awesome martial art kick to knock out the bad guy. Even if their main flaw is that their dyslexic, and perhaps they’re trying to enter a spelling bee.
  • Make them add to the storyThere’s no point in having a character if they’re just a love interest for the character you like because they don’t have one/you don’t like their canon.
  • Make them have history. There’s no point in a character with no background.
  • Make them interact with the canon characters. It’s not the ‘OC’ show. The characters matter too – especially as, though you know your OC, your readers don’t. They know the canon characters, and that’s who they’re reading for. Not the random OC.

Now, what you’ve got to know about many people is that they don’t like OCs. So you have to make yours really awesome to get them read. And remember you have to have a good story line (see below) in order for it to actually be read.

Hope that helped. Questions? Hit me. 🙂

NaBloPoMo Index

Others in the ‘series’:

Well Hi Newbie, Apparently I’m Your Writer

You know how it is; you’re just sat there, not thinking about anything, or perhaps you’re writing so furiously your fingers feel like they’re on fire. And then – BOOM! – a new character strolls into your head. Their name, much of their background, the place in the story – or perhaps their own story – is fully formed in your mind. And what can you do, but great them kindly, offer them a cup of tea/coffee/Butterbeer and say they can sit down.

Many writers say their story writes itself, and I know all too well how true that is. This time last year, I was doing NaNoWriMo as well, and I remember my character, Rosen, being far too headstrong, and a bit annoying really, running off where she wasn’t supposed to and crying over her father and brother who may have, er, died prematurely. So what can you do?

Help them along. When your characters write you into a plot hole, take a deep breath, give yourself a few slaps around the face with a large trout (Scouts who did JOTI-JOTA should get that) and get those motherfuckers out of there. You’re like their guardian, they’re angel who helps them with all troubles. Sure, you may cry when you kill their beloved goldfish and they are upset for days, but you are there for your characters, much like your best friends.

What makes a character is their background; why are they like the way they are? Their personality, characteristics. Your character relies on you to make sure your readers know that, and you don’t just let them karate-kick their way out of plot holes, before telling your reader that they’ve been doing martial arts from birth. Or they call their parents ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ 5 chapters before you remember to point out that they’re fostered (..unless that’s the story, of course).

Most of all, when your characters get you into trouble (maybe you’ve been staying up under the sheets to write and your parents have caught you, tut tut, or maybe you’ve just written yourself into an awful plot hole), whatever you do – DON’T QUIT ON THEM! Your characters need you, their creator, their author. Love your characters like yourself – because they’re all a reflection of who we really want to be. Believe in your characters, and that’ll reflect in your work. Make them real and readers will emphasize, cry when they do, make them believe they’re their best friends – but, most of all, it’ll make them remember you.

Sorry the advice in there is a little messed around, and I don’t even know if it’s useful. But I kinda hope it is. Good luck to you; and to your poor character! 😉

NaBloPoMo Index

Names…

Now, I don’t know about you, but I really really really have a thing for names.

Since I first heard it when I must’ve been about 5, my all time favourite name was ‘Sam’ (for boys anyway; girls is ‘Alice’). I even named my teddy bear ‘Sam’ (although this got awkward when I moved house and started fancying a guy called Sam. BOOM, everyone thinks I named by teddy bear after him…).

But what about meanings for people names. Do the names you use mean anything? I like mine to mean things, but if I see the perfect name, I will bloomin’ well use it.

For example, though, I am planning for a Teen Wolf fanfiction (happy face!). I want my MC to be called ‘Quinn’, which is the name of one of my American friends, and also means ‘smart’, which I would like my character to be. Another name I want to use for a boy, who I am likely going to kill, is ‘Enos’, which means ‘mortal’.

Gods, I feel so evil sometimes.

But what really made me write this post was trying to think up place names. I ended up using a generator today, because after failing to find inspiration in my living room, I gave up. I think place names are much much harder than character names, mainly because you can name someone ‘James’ and no one will think anything of it. But if you call a small village ‘London’, people will think you’re a bit odd.

I own a baby name book (no, I’m not pregnant) with 60,001+ names; it is my savior. For another work in progress, I used the place name ‘Haute’, which I later looked up in my book (it gives meanings, too). If I can’t think of any names, I use the book. If I can’t think up surnames, I use the book, because some of the names are a bit weird and suit surnames instead. Normally, if I can’t think up any place names, I’ll have a look in the book (I just really could not be bothered to get up and get it today. Tells you how tired I am, really).

So yes, I’m not really sure what the purpose of this was. Just go and get yourself a baby name book, and you’ll never ever look back. Trust me. I’m the Doctor.

(Well, not really, but could you imagine?!)