WHEN DESCRIBING YOUR CHARACTERS...
I have been hiding from my story for a while now and in the mean time I have been building plot and character worksheets. I might be having a bit too much fun, but I am learning as well. Among the worksheets already floating about the internet, there are those that are brief and leave little room for exploration while others dig very, very deep. So, this raises a question.
How much is too much?
The answer? There is no answer.
There are 7.7 Billion people in this world. About 72 percent of them read. And everyone of that 72 percent have their own preference as to what they like to read. That includes description. There are those that would rather have every detail explained to them while others wish to be left to their own imagination.
Since most writers are not paid by the word anymore for the most part, there is no excuse to spend five pages describing fog or a dead turtle in the road. But if you would want to make sure your reader knows that your character is 5'4" with short red curly hair, freckled skin from head to foot, emerald isles green eyes, and thin pink lips, then make sure to include such details about your character throughout the story. Just try to resist doing it all in one paragraph if you can.
Not perfect, I know, but you get the picture, right? Not only do you get a vivid image in your head about what the character looks like, but you also get a sense of her personality and how others respond to her. It also makes the readers want to get to know her more. Who is this woman behind the beloved character? Is she as endearing as everyone believes she his? No one is perfect, so what skeletons hide in her closet?
Now that the reader is intrigued, what more could they learn about Miss Nora Kennedy? From her name, it is obvious that she is Irish. From her description, you know she is pretty and that she is charismatic. Moving forward, the reader will want to know more about the character's personality...but the juicy stuff will be in the revelations of her secrets, fears, and flaws. That is what people can relate to. No one is perfect and we get some sense of reassurance when we learn that everyone else out there, factual or fictional, is just as flawed. That is what make us human.
What is also rewarding is watching (reading) how the character triumphs over their imperfections. Whether it is self-love or a love in others, a David versus Goliath, or just a betterment of circumstances, everyone loves a victorious outcome for the most part.
How much detail you put into your character is up to you as the writer. There is a market out there for it. Like I mentioned before, there are readers that like a lot of details while others do not.
As a writer, it needs to be clear that you cannot make everyone happy. Not everyone likes romance, fantasy, thrillers, horror, or science fiction. Diversity is what makes the world go round. Just like there is no such thing as a perfect person, there is no book out there that is loved by every single reader out there. That is why it is up to us to give readers options to choose from such as genre, style, and format.
Best of luck to you. I do hoped this helped. Happy Writing!
For more help in Character Development, please head over to Writing Tools to check out my various worksheets!
The developmental stage of planning and developing is my favorite part. It is nowhere near as intimidating as writing a hundred thousand word novel. It's my safe place. All the while, in the back of my head, deep in the bowels of my subconscious, I know that if I want to achieve my dream of being an author...I have to step out of my safe place and explore my talents with the written word.
What if no one loves my characters the way that I do? What if no one finds the same wonder in the world I created as I do? What if I am horrible at writing and incapable of doing my story justice? When the trolls come out from under their broken, miserable bridges to reaffirm every one last of my fears with their hateful comments, can I handle it?
It's terrifying...and I know that I am not alone. We all struggle to find the right words or the right place to start our tales. Some can overcome the suffocating doubt that haunts most writers and not only finish their stories, but send them out into the world for all the lovers and the haters to consume and pass judgement. I admire those authors. Sometimes, I even envy them.
I have no words of wisdom to free me or anyone else from this feeling of 'how do I know if I am good enough?' or 'am I just wasting my time writing something no one will want to read?'. All I can say is that if you feel a story deep in your heart...than the only way to do it justice is to write it. You don't have to publish it or even let it see the light of day, but your characters are speaking to you and they want to know you hear them. So, listen.
I always do something that has to do with writing, that keeps me connected to the literary world. I create my worksheets, fill out the blanks, and create worlds of my own design populated with imperfect people seeking their own sense of self. I write two chapters, and than disappear back into my safe place of development. No one ever sees the development stages of a novels creation. The hours of research, the notebooks full of facts and ideas, or the whiteboard burdened with scribblings of an untamed imagination. No one sees it, and therefore no one cares. It's a freedom I don't feel when I write. Especially if I am writing something I hope to one day publish.
But I still write. Every day. It is something that I will do till my dying breath. It is what makes me happy (not everything that makes you happy has to be pleasant).
Anyways. I am floating in a planner's blackhole filled with facts, spreadsheets, and unseen worlds. There I will remain till I find the rope that will pull me free and ignite the confidence I need to achieve my lifelong dream. To transition from a writer trapped in her head to an author brave enough to face her fears.
Take care fellow writers, and keep those fingers on the keyboard (or pen)!
Plot Sheets are here!!