Character Conversations #5: A World Of Saints & Sinners

This is the fifth installment of the Character Conversations series. If you haven’t read the other installments, that’s totally fine. You can read them here: convo #1, convo #2, convo #3, convo #4, although they will make sense if read out of order.

We live in a world with beautiful things and horrendous things. It’s a world of beauty and pain. It’s filled with saints and sinners. You can find that out by just stepping outside into the real world or by watching the news at any given moment.

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Last month, Johan’s grandpa passed away. It was really sad. He went in for a surgery and made it through that just fine, but all of a sudden when he was in the healing process, his heart just stopped. It was so tough, especially since Johan was here and the rest of his family was in South Africa.

a world of saints and sinners

In that same week, our town was hit by a horrendous crime that made everyone very uncomfortable and took away that safe feeling that a small community has. A pregnant woman went missing. And then they found her body. Continue reading “Character Conversations #5: A World Of Saints & Sinners”

Character Conversations #3: How To Create Characters From Your Imagination

Over the past couple of weeks here, we’ve been having character conversations (for the character convos intro, click here) where we talk about creating and writing believable characters and how to make them come to life.

You’ve learned different steps and tips on how to create unique characters that feel real, even if they are fantastical.

Character conversations 3 how to write believable characters

A couple weeks ago, you learned how to create a character from yourself.

Today you’ll learn how to create characters from nothing. That statement might come off as a bit strange, but what I mean is… that you are going to learn how to create characters from your imagination and how to look for characters in your daily life.

Alright, Let’s Begin Creating Memorable Characters

1. First off, where do you get inspired?
Brainstorm a couple of the different places.
Here are mine: the woods, the mountains, and on road trips with people I enjoy.

2. Now pick one of those places. (I will pick the woods. Wish I could go to the woods right now. So restful.) What place would you choose? Where would you go?

3. When you are in that place, sit down, shut your eyes, and listen. What do you feel? What do you hear?

4. After sitting there for awhile, take out a notebook and write those things down. What you were feeling? What you heard?

5. Ask yourself questions like:”What kind of characters live here?” (My Example: Trees live here.)

6. Create a character from your choice.
For me, my character is going to be a tree.

Now, it’s time to ask the question that all writers ask, which is: “What if?”

For mine:
– What if trees could talk?

– What if trees were filled with wisdom from the history they’ve seen?

– What if trees were protectors of man kind, I mean they do give us oxygen to breathe?

Write all your “What if” questions on paper.

Now… write about your character. Write a paragraph about them. Put them in their setting and give them some thoughts and maybe even a conversation.

My piece:

A meeting only happens once a month, when the whole moon brightens up the sky. A tall hooded figure walks through the forest. His long cape trails on the forest ground amongst the foliage.  With each step, he took the ground lit up with more vibrance. The greens became greener. The pink flowers shown brighter. Once into the middle of the forest he stopped. Wind whispered through the forest, shaking the leaves of the trees around him.

“I know.” he said, as if he were speaking to them. In a matter of moments four other tall men in hooded capes appeared around him.

“What are we going to discuss this month, King Spruce?” Elmwood King asked.

“There’s been a disturbance in the world. A pain. The creatures have been fighting and peace has been fleeting. How shall we help them see what’s important?”

What paragraph did you write? What character came alive?

Character Conversations #2: Create A Character From Yourself

Have you ever read a book and noticed the main character or one of the characters having similar characteristics with the author?

I know I have!

And I’ve created characters who have similar characteristics to mine.

This can be a super useful form of inspiration when creating characters. Look into yourself. There is a ton of information in there.

In this blog post, you’ll learn about creating characters from your unique characteristics, likes, dislikes, and more.

Create a character, character conversations, Devin Joubert, Berglund

First off, let’s do an exercise.

Step #1. List Your Characteristics, Annoyances, And Likes

  • What characteristics are unique to you?
  • What annoys you?
  • What kind of things do you like?
  • What are some rants of yours?

Write out your answers to all of the questions from above. You might even think of your own questions, as well.

Here is my list:

  • Dislike for people with certain names because I’m always disappointed with how they turn out to treat me. It’s like a name curse. As soon as I meet them and they say “Hi, my name is….” and I am secretly thinking “Great… here goes another ruined friendship or failed opportunity.”
  • Dislike it when people don’t reason and think about things before they speak.
  • Hate how negative and full of lies social media is.
  • Hate the US vs THEM mentality of today’s society.

Step #2. Now Pick One Of The Characteristics

Use that one characteristic to inspire you to write a paragraph in first person, from a person who is fully focused on that specific topic.

I’m picking the first one.

It really bothers me that certain names are just a mismatch for me. It’s like the universe keeps handing me bad apples in the form of people. People with these same names never seem to fail — they disappoint me.

Step #3. Answer These Questions About Your Character

When I was little, my dad told me about these 5 magic words you can insert in front of any sentence to get people talking and answering questions. Which are “Who, what, where, when, and how.”

Here are the questions to ask of your characters:

  • Who are they?
  • Why are they so annoyed with this?
  • What do they love?
  • What is their job?

Step #4. Now Write A Paragraph Creating Your Character

Here is mine:

It’s my first day as an intern at a my dream job. The lady who is going to train me, steps out and offers her hand. “Hi, my name is Shelia (Name is not name I hate… I am not sharing that here.) My stomach lurches and does somersaults as soon as her name leaves her lips. The last time I met a Shelia, which carved this hatred for the name, was when Shelia was convicted of murdering my aunt.”

So, see what I did there? I took something I hated “that name curse” I mentioned above, and then spun it into a story about a character starting as an intern at a company she wants to work at. Then you find out why she hates the name.

*Note: I don’t dislike the names that I mentioned above, for a matter such as my character’s above. I made that all up.

Please share the character you created below in the comments section.

Character Conversations #1: An Introduction To Character Conversations

Back when my husband was visiting from Australia (before we were married) we were driving in the hot desert outside of Las Vegas. We were talking about different ideas and one came up about creating characters and showing people how to create their own from the examples.

I feel like some of the best ideas come while on road trips. There is just something so magical, freeing, and inspiring about going someplace new. Our whole conversation got me thinking, and I’ve decided to start a blog series on this, called Character Conversations.

First off, I want to start with some important tips for writing characters and then I will share my first Character Conversations character with you all.

In each Character Conversations post, I will share with you, how I created the character. What I used as inspiration and ideas so that you can turn around and implement those tips to help you create your own characters.

Each writer has an area of strength and I’ve talked to a few who have asked me about my detailed descriptions and my characters. So, I know this is something that people struggle with. Especially if you are more intrigued about writing plot driven stories instead of character driven. I love writing stories that are driven by characters and editors/agents/readers love a story with a strong character—good or evil.

4 Things To Keep In Mind While Creating Your Characters

  1. Your characters are real. Give them real wants and real flaws.
  2. People watch with a pen and paper in hand. Go someplace with a notebook and pen. Sit down and watch people. Just spend some time writing physical descriptions down. Write down facial expressions, clothes, confidence, and anything else you can see.
  3. Ask yourself the right questions. Many writers go to the character sketch before they even know their characters. I’ve never really liked that about character sketches. If you don’t even know your character yet, how are you going to answer those questions? So instead I opt for you asking yourself the right questions to start off with.This makes me think of a time when I was in Australia at a Character workshop and there was another lady there who was participating in the class and she asked, “So who is really talking when you write through your characters. Is it you? Or your character?” So you can see how there is a bit of confusion when it comes to characters.But if you take a little time to wonder and think about your character you’ll have a lot less trouble when it comes to soaking into her or his shoes when you are writing. Take your character notebook with you to your writing desk and ask yourself “How can I combine these physical descriptions and features into a character for a story or book?
  4. A word of caution. Be careful if a real person inspired a made-up character. I’ve heard of writers who have been sued over things like that. So if you want to write a character who might have similar characteristics as a person you know, then be sure to change it up enough that they would never know it was them.

Now, since we have the tips out in the open, let’s create a character.

I went out and did a little people watching as well.

Step #1: Come up with the character list.

This is the list I came up with: (remember, when you do this, you might be watching one person or many people. Take ideas from everywhere.)

  • frizzy hair tied up in a short pony tail that sticks out of her head like a palm tree in the back.
  • rough skin
  • eye-glasses on the tips of her nose.
  • shifting eyes
  • a secretary
  • a fan of gossiping

Step #2: What story do you want to tell?

(Write a character story sentence. This will tell who she/he is, what they want, and what their purpose is in the story.)

With this character, I can see her being the Demon Secretary In Hell. She takes her job extremely carefully, and she loves hearing the juicy gossip to tell the Office Demons she works with. She is the Devil’s secretary, except he could care less.

Once you write down your character story sentence, you can start writing.

Step #3: Start writing your character.

Edith Blackridge took her job seriously as she scribbled in her scrawling handwriting on the H.E.L.L admittance forms. They’d been getting plenty of new members. A glob of slime fell from the cavernous ceiling above and onto her desk with a splat. She humphed while pushing her glasses up further onto her greenish nose. Her hair was a knot of grey and black hair.

This was happening more than it wasn’t and she’d complained about it already. That janitor better get better at his job or else the boss isn’t going to be happy, she grinned while turning to look at the office door behind her. A sign hung on it, with blood red writing, which said: Satan.

Now, it’s your turn!

Step #1: Come up with a character list.

Step #2: What story do you want to tell? (Write a character story sentence. This will tell who she/he is, what they want, and what their purpose is in the story.)

Step #3: Start writing your character.

Each time you do this, you will come up with a different character and if you are using this exercise to come up with characters in a book that you are currently writing, think about what the purpose for the character is in the larger scheme of things.

How will they either help or cause more pain for your protagonist. There has to be a reason to have the character on the page.

Did you do the exercise? If so, answer the three questions in the comments section below. I’d love to see what you come up with. 

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