In my last blog post, I mentioned that I’d learned a lot about Sean by writing a journal entry. Since a few of you requested to read the entry, I’m happy to oblige. Some of the original entry contains spoilers, so I’ve only included part of it below. Still, you should be able to get a grasp of his character. Small content advisory, on account of language. Enjoy!
Fucking bastard could’ve told me long ago that he was dying. We could’ve gotten him some fucking help—I don’t know where, but we could’ve done. Bloody selfish git.
I can’t fucking believe it—first my parents, then my sister, now Jay and maybe Maia. Everything I love is falling apart. The only good thing I’ve got going is Melanie—the girl that I fancy beyond conscious thought. She keeps my world spinning. She and Jay have always kept me grounded.
If I lose him and Maia, I’ll lose some of the only people who remember me.
And I know Melanie will take it harder—though I hate to admit it, she’s closer to him. At one point, I know they fancied each other. Part of me wonders if I should let him have her. I love her, but I would do whatever it took to make him happy. If he knows how much he means to me, maybe he’ll be keener to look for a cure.
I’m a total arsehole, but I can’t fucking help it.
My best friend is dying, and I’m so scared of being all alone.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much writing to make progress. Before this exercise, I saw Sean as selfish. I didn’t see why he lashes out at everyone around him. Now, I understand. He’s using anger to mask his fear, to keep his friends from seeing how terrified he is.
I understand Sean now. I can see why he acts the way he does. In turn, that helps me portray him more accurately; more authentically.
As writers, authenticity is something we should strive for.
What do you think of this exercise? How do you get to know your characters?
Learn how one journal entry changed @brianawrites’ perception of one of her characters. (Click to tweet)
As a writer, I know it’s difficult to get inside your characters’ heads, especially if a character is different from you. Creating believable characters means getting to know a character all the way down to the core of his or her being. If you’re finding it hard to identify with your character and figure out everything that makes him or her tick, consider trying the following strategies:
Write an entry in your character’s journal.
Write a letter from your character to a friend or loved one.
Walk, talk, eat, and move like your character for a set amount of time.
Write a bulleted list of important moments in your character’s life.
Make a playlist of songs that remind you of your character.
These are just a couple of techniques for getting over writer’s block where characters are concerned.
What do you think? How do you get into your characters’ heads?
Whenever I come up with story ideas, I usually have a mental image of the story’s characters as well. For example, my characters are usually famous people. In the novel I’m working on now, my protagonist would be played by Mila Kunis, and my antagonist would be Johnny Depp.
Why bother casting a novel if it hasn’t been made into a movie yet? Because visualizing your characters as they would actually appear in reality is fantastic.
Take a minute to calm your mind. Breathe in and out. Focus.
Now, I want you to imagine the world of your novel. Unravel the setting, the landscape, and the time frame. See the buildings, trees, and streets in your mind’s eye. Next, move on to your characters. Imagine them going about their everyday lives. Who do they look like? Pretened you’re watching a movie adaptation. Which actors come automatically to mind?
Once you’ve come up with some famous names, do a Google image search to find some photos of them. You can save them to your computer for reference if you want. Now, whenever you get stuck on a difficult scene, imagine the actor in your character’s predicament. Picture him or her in as much detail as you can. What does he or she do in that same situation? What does he or she look like? What does he or she say?
This exercise has proven useful to me, but it might not work for everyone. It’s been my experience that visual learners and writers with a more visual sort of memory have a better time with this technique, but feel free to give it a shot, no matter what your style.