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From the Blog: Know Who Your Characters Are

With creating complex characters, we have to understand the people we write about. NaNo Guest Celeste October offers us advice, so our characters feel more like people rather than concepts on a page.

There are various ways to get into your character's emotions. The method that you use might not work for somebody else. Despite that, I thought sharing some of my tips with those of you who haven’t found a set method might help.

Know your character on a surface level.

You can’t get into your character’s emotions when you know nothing about them. Knowing basic things about your character is the most beneficial choice you can make. When you know your character on a surface level, you're able to get an idea of how they act and what they say.

Understand how your character is feeling.

When writing any scene, there are three things you should consider: How is your character feeling? Why is your character feeling that way? And how does that feeling influence them?

Knowing these three things gives you an unimpeded view of how you should portray your character in a scene and it really helps your character develop their own voice. Please note that you don’t have to sympathize with your character or relate to them. Simply understanding how they’re feeling in a situation and their point of view is enough.

Tap into your character’s mind; become your character.

Tapping into your character’s mind allows you to know how they think and act. I refrain from putting my characters into one box or having them do something completely out of character. However, this may not apply to you if that’s a part of the storyline or if your character is usually unpredictable. The best way that you can avoid this is to become your character. You’ve tapped into your character’s emotions once you can almost feel what your character is feeling at a moment. It’s easier said than done, but I promise that makes writing 10x easier.

Think of things that can help you get into character.

One thing that helps me get into character is imagining the specific scene and focusing on my character’s emotions when I sleep. I’m more creative when I sleep or daydream. So, using that time to tap into my character’s mind and feel what my character is feeling during a particular scene is crucial for me.

Another thing that helps me get into character is listening to music. Instrumental music or music in an unfamiliar language helps me a lot since I get distracted. 

Lastly, using my own experiences and emotions and connecting them with my character does wonder. I constantly come up with believable responses for my character’s dialogue and actions because I can picture myself in their shoes.

Early in my novel, I used these tips and saved myself from the extra weight of knowing that the scenes that were supposed to be significant weren’t. They also helped me write difficult scenes in my novel, signifying the importance of building a strong connection with my characters. As the author, I hold the responsibility of understanding their complex minds, as well as mine. For something emotionally depleting but still quite euphoric, these tips have helped me grow my character and grow as a person. 

I hope we can all use these tips to maintain the ecstasy and exhilaration of writing. Good luck with your next project!

Celeste October is a Black fantasy writer who lives in the US. Known for the heavy topics she loves to write about, she is always intertwining social issues within her books in different forms. Besides her love of reading and writing, she loves to watch kdramas, read comics, and listen to music.

Photo by Autumn Goodman on Unsplash

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