Character, the Soul of a Story

Hello friends! Happy Summer! Yesterday was the last day of school for me (woo-hoo!) so hopefully I will be posting more regularly. But sadly with scatterbrained me, I can make no promises. 🙂

Have you ever wondered what makes stories so good? Think about your favorite book. Can you see the images in your head? Can you smell the smell of binding and ink and paper? Are you running through your favorite scenes in your mind? I know I am. What do you think makes stories so real to us? Even if they take place in a surreal world or setting. I think that it’s the character. It might just be me but I get very attached to fictional characters. They are also my favorite part of writing. But how do you write a character that will pull at you and make you love them and feel real? Well, I’m still working on it. I’ve heard that authors write from experience or sympathy. But I think that it takes more. There’s only so much I have experienced; and there is a limit to what I can rightly sympathize with. I think it’s a mix of it all: experience, sympathy and empathy.

I think I love character so much because it gives me a chance to see and understand another person. Handcrafted by God and made in His image. And to be understood. But that’s a rabbit trail… As wonderful as it is crafting a character can be hard! I came up with a series of questions to get started on knowing your character. In the end, your character has to be good because they become real to you. Sometimes they pop up out of no where and sometimes they are long in coming.

I decided to make a character for fun several weeks ago using these questions and scribbling the answers in a spare notebook. And now I have a beautiful character that I get to keep working on for an upcoming story. Hopefully these can help you if you need to get the ideas flowing!

   A Character Guideline: 

  1. What is their full name and nickname? 
  2. Any special meaning to the name?
  3. Do they like their name? 
  4. Alias?
  5. Physical: hair color and length? 
  6. What is their build?
  7. What is their approximate height?
  8. How old are they?
  9. How old do they look?
  10. Freckles?
  11. Glasses
  12. What are their good habits?
  13. Bad habits?
  14. What are their hobbies?
  15. What are they really good at?
  16. What is the most important thing to them? 
  17. What music do they love most?
  18. What is their greatest fear? 
  19. What is their family situation?
  20. Friend situation?
  21. What are their good character qualities?
  22. What are their flaws? 
  23. What is their greatest fear?
  24. What would break them?
  25. Are they artists or scholarly?
  26. Sensible or reckless?
  27. If they could do anything, what would it be?
  28. Are they the same alone as they are with others?
  29. What do they think of themselves?
  30.  If they could change anything about themselves what would it be? 
  31. What is something that others see in them that they are blind to? 
  32. In a group dynamic what are they? Examples: leader, brains, strength, encourager?
  33. Who is their role model? 
  34. What is their opinion on romance/relationships? 
  35. What do they not want to tell people?
  36. What do they not admit to themselves? 
  37. are they broken or hopeful?

I’m sure there is more that is needed to forming a character. But hopefully those will get you started! If your struggling remember something: your characters don’t always listen to you.

When I write my stories and my characters I just stand in awe of God. He has made each snowflake of a person and He know how many hairs are on your head. He is truly an awesome God!

And this is the marvel of marvels, that He has called me beloved.

C.S. Lewis

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