Hey there, this is a monthly post in which I talk about writing. I called it writing advice last month, but I decided to change it because it's specific to how I write. Everyone has a different way of writing and this is just how I do it.
Every month (if all goes to plan) when I post a "how I write" blog I'll also post a short story on wattpad. This month, the short story I'm posting is called Haunted. If you like ghosts and serious children, then you'll love Haunted.
Anyway, on to how I write. So, characters. They're essentially the most important part of the story. Without a character there is no story. A character drives the story and through them, you're able to see into their world. I find that, with each story the way I write characters is different. Here are a few methods I use:
1. Cheat Sheets
Making one of these is simple, really (well, to start off with). You take a piece of paper and write down every single detail about one of your characters. I'd start with physical description and then I'd move onto personality. What are their likes and dislikes? What motivates them? Essentially, what makes this person tick? I find that this is a good starting point. The character may change over time, but you've got something to work with. Especially if you love to plan and make notes.
2. Pantsing It
Most blogs will tell you that there are two types of writers: Plotters, and Pantsers. Plotters plan extensively. Every detail must be worked out before they can write a word. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants. Their is no planning. There's only a blank page and one word falling after another. While I can never settle on one, pantsing does work sometimes for me. All you need is a blank sheet of paper and an idea. As I write the story, the characters form as if by themselves. If a character is one of the first things that comes to you when you come up with a story, and if they have a strong voice, I'd suggest this method.
3. Fleshing It Out
So, sometimes pantsing doesn't work. At all. In these cases, your character is less two dimensional than a piece of cardboard. When this happens, I go back to the drawing board and ask myself some questions: why isn't this working? What's missing from this character? What do they want? Want drives them? What/Who is getting in their way? What's their main goal? It might be a good idea to use a cheat sheet and flesh them out that way. Sometimes what's wrong is that you need to really give them life by making them a real person and really knowing them like a close family member or a friend. Also, by avoiding clichés at all costs.
4. The Power Of Three
Sometimes you can use a mash of three. For example, you can pants it and as you write you flesh out the character while adding new or revised information about this person to a cheat sheet for later reference. Or, when you go back over your work you flesh everything out, including your characters, while adding information to your cheat sheet and completely pantsing it to see what works and what doesn't work.
Besides all of that stuff, sometimes you really need to research. If the character has a disability, is ill in any way or if they're culturally different from you, research is needed. This doesn't mean talking to one person who is similar to your character. This means talking to many people and/or doing extensive research on reputable sites, including reading books that they recommend give an accurate portrayal of this type of person. There are a few links on my home page to get you started.
Ultimately though, it's up to you. The only way you can find out how your write is by writing. No one can figure it out for you.
Anjulie Te Pohe
Founder of Koru Mag | Mookychick contributor | Avid reader and writer of YA | Takatapui (Maori & bi/queer) | She/Them | Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org