A good story can be ruined by its bad characters and a bad story can be saved by its good characters.
I honestly don’t remember where I heard or read that. If it was in a class or convention, or from one of the many writing youtubers I follow, but it does sum up the importance of what having good characters can do for a story. Much of having good characters come from the writer knowing their characters. And for me, that me means getting some of their information onto paper, and if they’re an important character a voice journal.
My character sheets are pretty straight forward, and I will happily upload the general layout in a later post. Any, my character sheets, besides having the general details include things like: favorite foods and drinks, handedness, clothing preference and notations on body style. All of this helps me build characters a bit more natural, and helps me get them into scenes.
What I think really helps my characters come across is the use of a voice journal.
Now this idea seems a bit out there, but it really does help. Basically a voice journal is a stream of conscious conversation with one character from the story and myself. I usually doing this over their favorite drink (sometimes it acts an excuse for me to get coffee). For me works great when I start getting stuck with something in the story, I feel like the characters themselves are turning into cardboard. I’ve also found this really helps me with dialogue, something I struggle with when I put too much thought into it.
As with anything, I didn’t think it would work until I tried it.
If a person would ask me when does voice journaling do the most good? I usually do a lot of it during the mind mapping phase of any creative project, at least with my POV and my antagonist. This way, I can start building a report with these characters and they start taking shape in my mind. But as the story goes on, I typically start bring more and more characters to life with these voice journals and use these interactions to help gain some insight into how they handle the world I’m creating.
For me, it serves as a great change of pace, and helps my brain think of things a bit differently. I’ve found I can usually break through any writer’s block or stoppage by doing a bit of voice journaling.
Do you try to get to know your characters? And if so how? Or do you think this idea is just crazy? I’d love to know, so please leave a comment below or feel free to follow me on facebook.