I’m going start this blog off by asking the writers out there a question:
Do you really feel like you know your characters? Inside and out?
I ask this question because the other day, I really “spent time” with my characters. I took some time away from writing to look back at my character sketches to review them. Whenever I write, I always make sure to keep my characters in mind. I remember who they are, what they’re like, how they act, etc. I ask myself: How would this character really react in this scene? What would they say? I always make sure it’s what they would say/do instead of what I would want them to do.
Regarding physical characteristics, I always describe them with as much detail as I think is necessary. Of course, I want people to use their imaginations, but I want them to really see these characters like they were in front of them. I want them to pop out of the pages. I have read books that don’t really describe their character’s physical traits at all. It’s like they are this bland person with no personality because the author tried too hard for every person to relate to them. Sure, I’d love to be able to relate to a character, but not at the expense of quality characterization. I tend to get bored if they are just “cardboard cut-outs”.
On the other hand, I always have to be careful to not overly describe them. In previous writings, I put in too much and that was a distraction from the story. I’ve learned how to balance it, and that takes practice.
I’m the one who knows my characters inside and out. It’s my job to make the readers see that without taking away too much from the story. Always remember this word: Balance.
I challenge you all to step back and really “spend time” with your characters today. Go back to the characters they were before you started writing and see how they are now. How have they changed? Have they taken on a life of their own?