QUICK FIX: Characters – get a life
(Writers’ Forum, October 2007)
Are your characters wooden? Unbelievable? Predictable? A touch - dare I say it - boring? All characters need a life which lifts them above the mundane and makes them stand out as unforgettable to your reader.
Think about real people. Even the most apparently mundane person has secrets, feelings and desires the outside world knows nothing about. Allow your readers into your character’s innermost thoughts and they will be hooked.
• Your character’s deepest secret
• Your character’s secret fear
• Your character’s passion
• Something your character has done which he or she has never admitted to
The answers to questions such as these give a tantalising insight into the hidden depths of the person you are creating.
Practice putting your character into difficult situations on the page.
How does your character behave:
• When an old enemy from the past unexpectedly appears
• When your character looks across a crowded room and falls in love with the most unsuitable person there
• When your character’s secret is revealed
• If you are feeling really brave put your character into a situation which would make you squirm
Keep writing about your characters and allow them free rein. Allow one to interact with another in the above situations. As soon as your character takes over and begins to act without you consciously thinking about it, you know he or she is believable - and has finally got a life.