MAKING STRONG CHARACTERS

What Contributes To A Character’s Uniqueness:

  1. Name: The word or nickname phrase by which a character is designated. Harsh consonants give the impression of strength and perseverance. Softer sounds give the impression of gentleness.
  2. Dialect: The phonology, grammar, and vocabulary style used by a character. It should reflect character’s age, background, and verbal mannerisms.
  3. Physical Attributes: The body characteristics of a character, including age and weight, body features and shape, eye and hair color, glasses, contacts; hair length, and distinguishing marks.
  4. Habits: The acquired patterns of behavior such as preferences of music and books, attend concerts, frequent museums, food preferences, favorite restaurants, bad habits–smoking, drinking, and preferences for perfume and cologne, and mannerisms.
  5. Clothing: The type normally worn makes a statement about a character.
  6. Personality Traits: The visible aspects of a character as he/she impresses others; faults and strengths; likes and dislikes; fears and favorites.
  7. Personal History: The events, acts, and ideas from a character’s past that has influenced him such as childhood diseases, education, emotional traumas, religious beliefs, family and friend relationships, and love relationships, career, and talents.
  8. Goals: The achievement for which a character struggles, can be immediate or long range.
  9. Body Language: The physical expressions in response to emotions, events, people, or things around a character.

Tips For Showing Strong Characters:

  1. Vary beginning letter, length, sound of names of characters
  2. Use a character chart to know the character thoroughly (should include all of the above)
  3. Use the most dominant impressions often, use them consistently (adjective and noun for quick description–prim lady, grinning devil)
  4. Make each character unique in some special way
  5. Use multiple facets of a character to have him reacting to all the various emotions (laughing, crying, teasing, loving)
  6. Use specifics to give the character a feeling of being real (Armani suit, rose cologne)
  7. Give the character a goal worth dying for (defending home/family, foiling a takeover)
  8. Give the character a strong motivation (reason for giving his all to reach a goal)
  9. Give the character an Achilles heel (one vulnerable spot)

Lifetraps For Strong Internal Conflict In Characters:

  1. Abandonment–emotionally isolated in some way; see friendships/relationships as unstable
  2. Mistrust and Abuse–expect people to hurt or take advantage of them; avoid relationships; abused physically, verbally, or sexually
  3. Emotional Deprivation–believe no one cares for them; disconnected and lonely
  4. Social Exclusion–isolate self from rest of world; self-conscious; feel inferior
  5. Dependence–need constant support; can’t make own decisions; feel inept and overwhelmed
  6. Vulnerability–don’t feel safe in the world; have anxiety attacks
  7. Defectiveness–feel inwardly flawed, unlovable; unworthy of love
  8. Failure–believe inadequate in areas of achievement
  9. Subjugation–sacrifice own needs to please others; allow others to control them through guilt or fear; avoid confrontations
  10. Unrelenting Standards–strive relentlessly; judge self by rigid set of standards; very competitive
  11. Entitlement–spoiled as children; don’t accept restrictions; can’t take no for an answer; easily frustrated; act on impulse and emotion

© 2010 Starla Kaye

The Smarts

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This website is the work of Starla Criser, an author who has published more than 50 stories, both traditionally and through self-publishing routes.