Getting To The Heart Of Your Story Part 2: Embodying Your Characters

Saturday, January 21, 2017
Welcome back to my four-post series, Getting To The Heart Of Your Story! Today, I'm going to talk about embodying those lovely characters you created.

So, without further ado, let's get to it:

(Pictures from Pinterest)

 Be Your Character

So last week, I gave the idea of "being" your character for a day to get the feel for them. This week, I'm going to talk about how important that is.


Your main character, whomever you're doing your POV (point of view) from, is your narrator. The entire novel, the reader is going to be journeying with this character, and maybe a few others if you like to switch. Your character is probably going to see the world differently than you. Each character is different. Each character sees things differently. Make that clear.

For instance, I may have mentioned that I spent all last year writing novels in first person. I got to write the same scenes over and over again from the views of different characters. That taught me how different each character is.

 
Yes, I need to work on my photography skills :P


All of those four books were actually just reworks of:


Love the shadows.....
...that little guy, from different characters' points of view. (tedious, I know, but I was crazy back then. And still am.... ;-) )

Anyway, I realized how difficult and important it is to be able to tell a story from different points of view. If you had a character named "Bob" who was a mechanic and a character named "Isabella" who was a princess, no matter what the story, you would have to change your writing style in order to tell those different stories.

I adore first person POV. I feel like I am the character. My first book was about me being on a random planet (thus the beginning of Dareas). I knew that character inside out and out, because I was in her head. With every character you do POV from, you should be in their head.

However, if you write from omniscient third person, it's different. You know what every character is thinking, all at once. I personally don't prefer this. I write deep third person or first person--if you do either of those two, the reader should be in the character's head. The only difference with third person is that instead of "I" and "me" you're using the characters' name.

I do suggest you try writing first person every once and a while as an exercise to really know what your character is thinking. Sometimes, if I'm struggling with a scene, I'll write it in first person. I feel more connected to the character. Then, I'll change it to third person, as I think my stories are more rounded with different characters narrating.

In the end, it's personal preference how you do your POV, but you have to get the reader into your character's head, thus getting them into the story.

To finish up this confusing section of becoming your character, remember who the character is. Are they young? Don't write their POV like an adult. Are they old? Don't write it like a ten-year-old. Female or male? There's more of a difference to narrating from different genders than you'd think. I find action scenes easier with guys. Emotional scenes I find easier with girls. Pinterest has some great things on this.

(Pictures from Pinterest)

 "Relatable"

  We've heard it a billion times: "Make your characters relatable, and your book will sell." It's true. Readers want characters they can relate to. But what does that look like?

I used to be daunted by this. I would wonder for hours if my characters were even remotely relatable. They were cool and I loved them, so wasn't that enough?

There's one simple way to make characters relatable:

Give them flaws.

I'm not perfect. You're not perfect. The thing that bugs readers the most is when a perfect character comes skipping across the pages, defeating evil and being "miraculously" saved from harm. Those characters grind against my nerves, especially when they're the protagonist. 

Give your character flaws: problems, vices, weakness. Make him real.

There's another great way to do this: don't make him a victim. Have him make choices that get him stuck because he's too blind/arrogant/weak to realize it. We've all done that before (I know I have), and readers will immediately connect to it.

That being said, don't make him all bad and horrible. Give him virtues. Give him vices. Make him real. A little good. A little bad. That's the first step in making him relatable. The next?

Make him you.

Writing:
(From Pinterest. I don't know the author)
 

 Feel Something

I don't know about you, but every character I create has a little part of me in him. Whether it's the faith I share or the way his eye twitches when he's angry, a part of me is in that character.

When I complain about a problem and say there's no solution, my mom tells me that someone has gone through it before and made it out. I'm human. I'm not one in a million in that sense. Someone's been there. That's helped me in writing as much as it has with life.

I used to worry about my writing being "relatable." Then I realized: if it's on my heart and I'm human, someone will be able to relate to it, and even if it's just one person, that's enough to keep writing it.

Write about something personal. Yes, adventures on a faraway planet are cool, but what else is there? Yes, writing about someone who lost the love of there life is heartbreaking, but have you been there? You can fake it till you make it, but I've found that the moments I connect most to in books are something that's personal for the author. I just sit back and realize: whoa, she's been there!

Not to say you can't write about things you don't know, but when you write about things you do know, things you've experienced, the reader will feel the passion and emotion dripping onto those pages. They'll be riveted. 

Recently, I started doing this with my own writing. With things changing rapidly, I walked out of my rough transition from ballet with themes for my entire trilogy. I'd been there and learned them, I knew them, and the urge to write them was stronger than anything else I'd ever had before.

Of course, you can take any emotion you've ever experienced and hype it up. But the point is that you've felt that emotion before. Even if it's something as simple as losing a competition, pull from your memory of those emotions. Readers will know your heart and soul is going into that story.


writing:
(Pictures from Pinterest)
It's scary--I know. Your bare your heart and soul on paper, and then give it to the world to read. Some readers will rip it up. Some will realize how vulnerable you've been and learn from your story.

The characters are the vessels of your story. They carry parts of you and your message: hopes, fears, dreams, things you've learned. The more you let them carry, the more extraordinary your story will be. The thing is...

you have to let them carry it

 :
(Pictures from Pinterest)
    Sorry for this long post :P This stuff has been swirling in my mind a lot as I've decided to write more seriously. Yes, it's scary, but I think it's the most beautiful thing in the world to weave together a story that means something--to you, to God, and maybe to someone else in the world out there who needs to hear it.

Happy Saturday, and thank you for bearing with me. I'll be back next week with a hopefully much shorter post on Plot.

<3

- Audrey Caylin 

Have you ever had problems with "relatable" characters? How do you get into your character's head?

13 comments:

  1. WHOA. You reworked your book to be from all the main character's povs? WOW OKAY THIS IS IMPRESSIVE OMW. XD *applause* What tense do you normally write in? For me I have a hard time connecting with my character's unless I write in first person- but I'm probably going to go out on a limb and try a third person novel at some point, haha. :D

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad I'm still alive ;-)

      I usually write past tense when I do 1st person, but recently (after reading A TIME TO DIE (CAN I JUST FANGIRL ABOUT THAT NOVEL FOREVER RIGHT NOW?)) I enjoy writing in present 1st POV. Probably for the next nanos I'm going to do that, but with series I just can never decide what my favorite character is so I have to do 3rd person. XD It's good to try but 1st person will forever be my favorite!

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  2. Wonderful post, Audrey. I personally write in first person because it's easier for me to "become" the character. And I take the whole "character must be flawed" thing really seriously ;) I make sure my characters have more faults than redeemable qualities, lol, but I definitely still let them grow and learn.
    Also, if I'm doing a scene where, for example, a character falls into the swimming pool, I'll make sure I experience that so I make her/his experience more real and believable.

    Again, great post!

    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words

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    1. Yes, I do that with my characters too! Sometimes I'm afraid I don't make my protagonists good enough role-models, but at least then readers can admire how the characters get over their flaws! lol. ;-)
      Right! Like if I accidentally burn myself, I'll immediately make a note of what it felt like for when one of my characters gets burned. Being a writer is so exciting! XD

      Thank you, Amy :)

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  3. Hey-o! such good points! I think my favorite part of writing is creating the characters (I'm sure that's everyone's favorite part). I really like designing them then giving them a small part of my personality (okay I know that sounds weird but hey I'm an artist we say weird things sometimes). This is a great post and a great reminder to me to keep my characters real :D Thanks!

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    1. I guess creating a character can be a lot like art, actually (not that I'm an artist). That's a cool way to see it though! And I always get giddy when it's time to make a new character! :D

      Thank you and you're welcome ;-)

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  4. Amazing post, as usual! My novel that I'm writing now is in first person POV, and this is pretty much the first time I'm really trying to do it in that tense. I still write my short stories in third person, but I honestly feel like in first person the book becomes more ALIVE. Like, I relate to the character, I understand, I feel. IT'S JUST SO GOOD <33

    All of the points you mentioned here are so good though. So often I wonder if my characters are relatable or not, and it's KIND OF SCARY. Because if they're not...then YIKES. But I love what you said about how if it comes from your heart, then it will be. SO MUCH WISDOM IN THIS POST.

    -autumn
    autumn's readings + writings

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    1. Thank you so much, Autumn!!! :)

      I know! I can just feel EVERYTHING when it's in first person. But like I mentioned in my post, I just can't decide which character I want to narrate from because I love them all so much XD I'm thinking of writing a standalone soon, and I'm going to let loose and do 1st person present because I've been dying to do it.

      Thank you again. I'm glad it helped! :D

      <3

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  5. This is an awesome post, Audrey!
    The current novel I'm writing is in third person. I think I'm going to try first person on my next novel though.

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    1. Thank you, Jonathan! :D

      I'm still torn over writing in first person and writing in third person :P I like the challenge of third person but first person just flows so easy! I'd definitely encourage you to try both though. Let me know how you like it!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Great post! I'm writing in first person, which I feel like is the best way for a reader to really get to know your character and get in their head. I've tried third person, but first person feels more natural for me. =)

    I don't really have problems with relatable characters, I think. Perhaps because I sometimes unknowingly mix my troubles, my feelings, my thoughts, and my experiences in my writing. =)

    Great series! Oh, and I put your blog button on my blog. =)

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    1. P.S. Love your photography! And SO cool that you wrote a story from different POVs!

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  7. Thank you, Micaiah! :D

    That was a huge problem for me when I did my book from different POVs; each character seemed the same! But I learned a lot about how to make each character unique.
    I think that's the awesome thing about writing :)

    Thank you! I'm redoing my "Blogs" page to add more of the awesome blogs I've started following, so I will make sure to include yours in a "button swap." :D

    <3

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