Are your characters lifeless? Are they mired in boring, like a stick in the mud? Try out these 5 tips to create characters who are unique and exciting.
#1 If you are looking for a hobby or job for one of your characters, try this tip: Go to Amazon Kindle’s bestsellers list to look for free and low cost nonfiction books. A writer should write what they know. Read a book or two on a subject for free, reference Google and topical blogs. Most of the time you’ll have enough information to accurately mold a character’s employment or hobby.
From today’s search in Crafts, Hobbies & Home…I could write a character who combines her love of Horses with Foraging to create: A entrepreneur who owns a Trail Riding company that specializes in foraging trips for upscale restaurant owners/chefs.
#2 You need inspiration for your new character’s features, but don’t want just another vanilla yuppie. This is when I enlist the help of Pinterest. I like Pinterest because I already have an account there, but this idea will work equally well with Tumblr. Or, if you are still kicking it old skool and you feel like wading through tons of pictures, you can use a Google Image search. The Google method takes a lot of time, so it isn’t my go-to method. Tip: use unique key word searches in Pinterest like ‘futuristic’ ‘hairstyles’ ‘men’, or replace futuristic with another word that describes your genre, like cowboy, Edwardian, or steampunk, for example.
#3 As you know from my tip above and my post about storyboarding using Pinterest, I’m a big fan of the site. If you are too, you can do a search much like tip #2 to find amazing locales for your characters to visit and live. However when I really want to wow readers with amazing locations I turn to Travel Bloggers. Why? They have the dirt on all the places yet to be on the radar for the average joes, so you are sure to find a place to dazzle your readers. Tip: Search for Travel Bloggers to get a list of blogs to read, or use the keywords like ‘blog’ ‘travel’ ‘exotic’ ‘vacation’ ‘escape’ ‘retreat’ to refine your search until you find the perfect place.
#4 Retellings of classic literature are all the rage right now, but how many rehashed Cinderella’s can one really make money selling? If you still want to get in on this trend but have been banging your head against your keyboard, you need better source material. Tip: When looking for classical storylines I turn to Wikipedia searches. No, I don’t take everything I find there as written in stone, like Moses’ documents, but most of what you have there is linked back to the original sources. An example, say you want to do a modern retelling of a fairytale. Well you need to have a list of tales to start with then look through them to find one to inspire your creativity. So a search on Wikipedia for ‘List of Fairy Tales‘ gets you everything from Abdullah the Fisherman to The Young King Of Easaidh Ruadh, basically a-z or over 550 different fairy tales to choose from. And that is just from fairy tales…a search on Wikipedia for literature gives you an nearly overwhelming load, but you can begin whittling down the list by looking at drama, poetry, or prose. From there you can stick to your own genre for inspiration, or bend a new genre to fit your own. Happy hunting!
#5 So far we have covered a lot of ground toward making your characters and stories more interesting. So now that you have a great Job/Hobby, Look, Place, and Story Line for your new book what else might help? I’ll be honest with you, even if you have the best ideas and the most amazing character the world has ever known, none of this work will do you any good if your character doesn’t have an equally interesting motivation. A story without motivation is like a sandwich with nothing between the bread.
Now you can Google for a plethora of articles about the subject. However, when speaking about your main character, motivation is key. Why? Events and action that amaze your reader are cool, but who takes action without motivation? It is the motivation of your character that indirectly and directly affects each scene in your story. Their motivation keeps the story moving forward, and a consistent motivation that gets resolved, leads to a satisfying story for your readers.
These are the tips I run through when my stories are going over like a lead balloon or boring as dirt. Let me know if the tips are helpful to you or if you have other tips to share about making characters interesting. Just leave a comment below.
Originally published Oct 12, 2015 on http://wp.me/s4jsV-mud. Edited 1/11/2016 by Lisa M. Collins