Many thanks to novelist Mya Kay, who provides us with our second Bang On post on the theme of “Love”. Mya offers up some GREAT writing exercises for those of us who need to get to know our characters better and I ESPECIALLY like number 5, which I’d never heard of before. Thanks Mya! Enjoy, Bang2writers and make sure you check out Mya’s links at the end of this post …
Often, writers find themselves caught between a love/hate relationship with their characters. A month later, they’re abandoning their story, without even realizing that it’s not their characters that may be flawed. I’m saying it – it’s the author!
Our characters are created by us. We have to remember that they will bother us and not respond the way we think they should just like one of our children or for those lucky women out there, our hubbies. Taking a break from the computer seems to be the number one piece of advice that everyone gives when you’re writing gets stuck.
But I recommend 5 ways to fall in love with your character, even if they are the villain of your story:
1) Visualise. One way to fall in love with your character is to make believe your character is in front of you. That’s right. If you’re writing a dialogue scene, you can be the other character and talk it out. Don’t just read your dialogue out loud, make it engaging. If the scene has an argument in it, be angry. Sometimes when we put our real emotions into the story we begin to see why our characters are who they are. I do this all the time and it works!
2) Research. Find the meaning of your character’s name and write it down. Remind yourself of that meaning whenever you’re tempted to kill the character. My first novel is titled Kaiya’s Redemption. Kaiya, my half black/half Japanese protagonist, in Japanese (with this spelling) means “forgiveness”. How beautiful for a story about a young girl learning to forgive her brother for molesting her because her faith requires her to do so? I queried that book and it never got any requests, but guess what? That will always be one of my favorite characters. More: 7 Ways To Name Your Characters.
3) Assign a celebrity to “play” your character. One of my favorite actresses is Nia Long: hands down, one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood! I don’t necessarily try to make my characters like her, but visualizing her helps me to keep a positive attitude when I’m working on my characters. I usually visualize her in one of my favorite roles and it keeps me pounding the keys.
4) Write a character bio. I do this already, you say? Guess what: I’ve written character bios from scratch and I’ve written them from where I’m at in the story. I know several writers who just write. But creating a character bio about your character (down to their favorite bedtime story when they were a kid) can really help you remember why you created them in the first place. More: Epic Character Questionnaire From The Script Lab.
5) Displacement Activity. Lastly, one of my favorite ways to fall in love with my character is putting them in ANOTHER story. Writing a novel is very demanding and takes great discipline. If you take your character and put them in a short story (and it could be all of two pages) you may find yourself with another scene or even an idea about the next situation you want to put them in.
As writers, we care about the real people in our lives. But it’s those damn characters we need to love more … So they can help us pay our bills one day!
BIO: Mya Kay is a US writer, currently crowdfunding for her novel, A Song For Jordan. Please visit and share her funding page here, follow Mya on Twitter, “Like” her page on Facebook and visit her website, here.
February’s Bang On Topic is “Love”. Want to pitch an idea for an article? Check out the details.