One of the most agitating things for me as a writer is keeping track of the descriptions I make. Things will jump around, change colour or disappear completely depending on how detailed my descriptions are and how often I refer back to the original design. This is why I find it extremely handy to take notes on key features and store them in an easily accessible place.
This month, we are thinking about our characters. We have so far discussed the basic elements of our characters, and the need for writers to know their characters inside and out (and how we can achieve this). Today, we’re going to examine the key features of our characters, from looks to personality, and how we can maintain them throughout our writing.
It is, in my opinion, easier to maintain my character’s physical appearance than it is to maintain their personalities. Yes, you might have an eccentric character who changes the colour of their hair every other day, but most of the time your character will look pretty much the same throughout your piece. Ensuring the consistency of their personalities, reactions, and voice (among other traits) is more difficult, not at least because these are in themselves more complicated elements of a character.
There are different ways that we can regulate our characters. Here are a few things that work for me:
Keep a Journal/Record of your Character
Make sure you have it close at hand so you can refer to it to check your character’s personality/relationships/feelings, etc. I find this one especially useful when my characters have complicated relationships with a number of people in a large universe.
Make Notes for yourself in the Text
Either write these notes in the borders, footers, or in comments at the side of the page next to the first/most relevant mention of your character. Use different colours for different characters to make them easier to sort through. Keep them separate from the main body of the text, so you can delete them when you’ve finished with them.
Go Through Each Character Individually
Write your first draft. Then pick out a character and their key features, and go through every single mention of the character to check that they match up. When they speak, can you tell it’s them? Do the same with the other characters. Then move onto your next draft.
If you focus your attention on your character in one of these ways, you should be able to create a more distinct personality. What do you do to keep your character’s key features consistent?
This month’s theme is CHARACTERS. If you have written something that you would like me to share on this blog on the theme of characters, then please post a link in the comments or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: Characters.