Make your character come to life
We talk about character creation and how important is this phase for the story design. I feel Getting into the character by Brandlyin Collins is one of the best books if you want to learn how to sketch your character.
First, ask questions
First, ask questions directly to your character. Treat your characters as if they were real people, and sit down with them to know them better. I’ll tell you about an actual conversation with one of the last characters I created for a story I’m writing. First, I pictured him with the body and face of Alesana Tuilagi, the famous rugby player. That helped me have a tangible person in front of me, but it was like he was standing behind the curtains and I could only see his traits through them.
“Hi, what’s your name?”
My character didn’t answer me back. I tried again to notice, to my surprise, that my character didn’t have a mouth; hence, his voice was kind of muffled. I got closer to the curtains and I felt it. A smell that only later I recognized as a snake smell and his voice made me shiver. I asked my question again, this time trying to understand his answer.
“My name is Lasghari, but no one has called me like that since I was 5. I mean, there are all dead.”
So, now I knew that there was a giant creature with no proper mouth that hissed while speaking and had a smell like a snake. Plus, I discovered my character was an assassin and a brutal one since he probably killed his own family.
“And now, how old are you? How can I call you?”
I didn’t dare to call him Lasghari. See, even though I knew I was speaking with an imaginary person, I had to feel it was real if I wanted to discover something interesting. The more we talked, the more I acknowledged in him the characteristics I saw before in people, mainly violent individuals I was unlucky enough to meet in the street. He slurred his speech, as he was drooling, the heavy breathing.
Then, I noticed a detail
His voice wasn’t just slurred and muffled because of his monstrous mouth, but he had something else. My character, I discovered again with surprise, was masked; a thick mask made of cement from crushed bones. I imagined him like an infernal baker, but instead of using flour, he used crushed bones.
Two hours later
We spoke for about two hours since I knew everything about him in the end. Also, I thought about deleting him from my tale because he genuinely terrified me. His background story was so intense and horrific that I asked myself if that was too much.
No, he was too powerful, and I didn’t just give him the privilege of being the co-protagonist with another character. He turned out to be the perfect alter ego, the best way to speak about what I had in mind when I started writing the story. I wanted to talk about how violence begins in the first place, taking The Lucifer Effect by Zimbardo and mixing it with the thesis by Rutger Bregman and his optimistic history of humankind.
What a trip!
What a trip it was. When I finally let the two characters one close to each other, even though they were well separated by a solid wall, I heard the craziest stories. While they were speaking, I was taking notes, scribbling so fast that my hand was blue with ink by its end.
The second rule we’ll discover in another article is about finding the values that define your fictional characters. This is a very challenging part, so don’t blink, or you’ll miss it!
Keep reading my stories here and see you soon!