Hi guys, I am back with another interesting topic about writing before I dive in I just want to ask you about your well being, how are you dealing with the recent crisis happening in the world? Feel free to rant about your well being in the comment section, I will be cheering you on.
Now, back to the topic of the day which is complex character building for your romance story. I have some amazing tips for you guys to begin your building process for your character. Now when a reader of any genre walks into a bookshop before a book is selected so many things come to play. Some consider the book cover(I would say don’t judge a book by its cover design, but what do I know? 😐😐) some would also consider the back story, now what they won’t consider on the spot is the originality of the character because no one wants to spend 30 minutes diving into the story of every book they see on the shelf before deciding to buy it. Once they buy this book and are ready to devour what keeps them engaged or hooked are the characters in the story this is why character building is very essential for your romance story (this applies to other genres)
And a disclaimer, I do not go through all these steps before drafting my character, it’s something that just plays along as I write.
So here it goes firstly
Table of Contents
1. Establish Character Internal Motivation
We want to know what motivates your character to do whatever he/she is doing. To achieve this first of all you need to write down the thing that is being done (Physically/mentally). Nail their fundamental goals. Show us what’s most important to them at the moment what they hope to achieve or what they plan to achieve. Typical examples can be found in my recent read “What To Wear To A Seduction” By Sari Robins. The main characters ultimate goal was to catch a blackmailing fiend. Afterwards, tell us why they want to achieve that. And one more thing give them realistic motives.
2. Create A Character Profile
Now when building characters, a lot of writers only think about this part, the character profile. Well, It is important but it is not enough. A character profile is basically all the details of your characters in one place. this is a very elaborate list so get writing, It can be used to summarize the entire post, It contains 3 major parts the outer layer, the flesh and the core.
The Outer Layer: PART 1
This part involves their physical characteristics which divide into three parts also known as the basics such as;
- Place of birth
- Current location
Their Physical Appearance:
- Eye color
- Pet peeves
- Body features e.g. Tattoos
- Scars, Birthmarks
- Body build
- Walking style
- Favourite accessories
- Level of grooming (i.e. untidy)
- Physically health
- Handwriting description
Their Speech And Communication:
- Manner of speech (i.e. rapid/slow)
- Presence of accent?
- Posture and gesture during speech such as eye contact,
- Body Posture, preferred curse word, catchphrase)
- Sound of laughter
- Sense of humour
- Emotions Hard stick
The Flesh: PART 2
This involves your character’s personality makeup, its skeletal system of your character’s biography. This includes;
- Name of hometown
- Type of childhood
- Favourite place as a child
- Education type
- Early memories
- Activities involved in a school drama etc.
- Role models
- Life beats / turning points
- Intelligent of dumb (i.Q)
- Saddest memories
- Happiest memories
- Vivid memories
- Organizations such as sports debates and secrets
- Criminal record
- Parents (Age, occupation, status quo, relationship white them)
- Siblings (how many, names and ages, relationship with them)
- Children (Age, occupation)
- Extended family (grandparents, *, cousins etc.)
- Family’s economic statue
- Family time (how often do they see the family)
- Close friends
- Important friend
- Describe enemies
- How are they perceived by stranger’s acquaintance work colleague’s authority figures friends, opposite sex extended family?
- What social media platforms are they on? Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, Snapchat; WhatsApp
- What’s their role in a group dynamic (loud, joker, parent, Hype man, mooch etc.)?
- Who they depend on for practical advice, mentoring, wingman, emotional support, moral support)
- How quickly do they respond to emails?
- Their idea partners
- What do they want in a relationship?
- Who’s their significant other?
- how many people will attend their funeral?
The Core: Part 3
This includes the heart of your character;•
- What do they do on rainy days?
- Are they Street smart or book smart?
- Introverted or extroverted •
- An optimist or pessimist
- Favorite place in the world
- What do they want the most?
- Biggest strength
- Idea of perfect happiness
- Their approach to power, ambition, love etc.
- Favorite sound
- Biggest flaw
- Biggest fear
- Favorite quote
- Their approach to power ambition, love etc.
- What bores them?
- What makes them angry?
- Priced possessions
- What do they look for in a person?
- List of books they read
- Pet peeves
- Bucket list
- Favorite songs on play list
- Best compliment received
- What would they want their tombstone to say?
Present and Future
- Their goals
- Their inspiration
I especially love this aspect when writing about my characters. Specificity simply means giving very specific details about your character and anything related to them, a practical example would be; if you are writing about a girl that got lost on her way to church and got injured afterwards look at the given example A. As she walked down the rough alley on 3rd Norman Street, Sari realized her absence of mind had taken her off the map to the St. Agnes Catholic Church downtown. Example B: As she walked down the street Sari realized her absence of mind had taken her off the map to the church downtown
If you just read the two sentences above and you still haven’t figured out the specificity let me explain it for you. A is more specific with the name of the street and the church. this is what makes it more interesting to read while B has no specific details. If you write a paragraph full of sentences like in B that would make your story very bland and boring.
4. Messy Is Good
Now a lot of writers make the mistakes of building their characters to be perfect with no flaws in sight, We want a hero to swoon over but we also want a well-rounded hero so don’t be afraid to make them messy. The hero needs to be lovable but he also needs a strong personality. So what makes him messy, whether it is a tortured past or a major life transformation. Every hero needs a past, this could be coming from a bad home or being bullied, he needs to have suffered something he’s still working to overcome whatever the case may be. Regardless of what the past trouble is it must be well defined enough that when the hero overcomes it (because he will) your reader will feel satisfied with your hero’s journey. Give him a hobby, a weakness, a habit that makes him human.
Quick Exercise ; If you give your character a specific trait, imagine your best friend with that trait does he or she feel human or plain robotic to you? If it doesn’t you can go ahead and use that trait. Has your fear of messiness run away yet?
5. Internal World
Your characters internal world is the area of their thoughts and feelings. We want to know how they perceive or interpret events, what they think about behind closed doors, their assumptions, what they fear about other people, how they perceive authoritative figures, opposite sex, extended family etc. One way to do this to describe events through your character’s eyes.
6. Complex Psychology
When building your character to avoid a flat character, complex psychology is needed. This involves the heart of your character. Questions to ask includes;
- What are their biggest flaws?
- What is their idea of ideal happiness?
- What is their biggest strength?
- In certain situations, are they positive or negative?
- Are they introverts or extroverts?
- What makes them angry
- What do they want the most in the world
7. Distinguish Your Characters
So, you created your character profile,what next ? Characters are differientated in two ways. In speech and in gesture. To create a unique & realistic character’s voice pay attention to the way people speak. The next step is altering word choice, verbaltics & habitual language.
Changing emphasis or tempo is important too,and can be done through punctuation. Reading aloud is a great way to learn how and where to puncuate the rythm of character speech. When it comes to gesture,you can enhance the individuality of character by thinking about the way your character;
- Moves their body.
- Facial expressions.
- Hand movements.
I believe with this 7 power-packed steps you are on your way to creating a well-rounded character for your next romance best-seller 😊😊😊.
If you found this useful, please comment below your thought about complex character building and feel free to share this post.