Hey guys, how’s everyone been? Well, I’m glad you could stop by on here because it’s definitely worth it. Although this is quite bent more towards Writers, readers too could learn a thing or two and who knows, you just might be heading on your way to being ‘the’ next editor.
Welcome to The Quill: Learning The Ropes
I’m Ugochuckwu and I’d be your Host on the art of Writing.
Lately, there’s been this buzz about reforming NaijaStories since “That Memo” got published and I must say I’m quite amazed at its reception. Well, it’s more than just complaining like some people would say, it should come with ‘help’ and that’s what this is about.
Today, I’d be talking “Knowing Your Character”.
Writing isn’t just about picking a pen or turning on your laptop and letting words out. It’s a bit more than that, especially when it’s Fiction with characters in them. When working with characters, you see them as real life people and not just some figure that you’re trying to paint. On that note, the importance of keeping Character Templates can’t be overemphasized. So what does this template involve, I’d give you a clue…how much do you know about your friends?
- Their Name
- Nickname (How did such name come about and does he/she likes it?)
- Place of birth
- Ethnic background
On a Bigger Screen!!
- Hallmark characteristics
- Emotional reaction-to sadness, death, change, fear, judgments, being polite or rude
- What annoys him/her and what is often the reaction
- What s/he a sucker for
- Extent of spiritual practice(Religion)
- His/her Residence Degree of commitment to relationships
Now the knowledge of these things let you know your character a bit more intimately. It brings them to life as their actions and emotions play in your head. You might be wondering how this template affects a Story, how it involves us-your readers. Here’s where the next part of knowing your character comes in, The “What-if?” part. This is a quite logical part of knowing our character. Just before you approach a person, there’s that “what if” moment,
- What if he doesn’t like me- how would he show it in his actions?
- What If this character never cries but just lost a parent-what will he do?
- What if this character gets bullied- what would he do? Cry or fight back or just remain quite?
- What if this Character is an atheist-what would be his daily routine?
- What if this character had god-like powers- What would he do with it?
While these questions could be as much as you’d want, think of as many ‘what-ifs’ that you think would fit into your story idea. These questions shouldn’t necessarily have your character as its main point, there could also be other factors like
- What would be his reaction if a cat pounced out of nowhere?
- Or there’s a loud banging at the door.
- Or a rat sneaks out of its hiding place and looks your character eye-to-eye(Would he shout BLOOD OF JESUS? Or would it be a simple “shoo” ?)
His or her reactions to different situations also SHOW your readers his/her kind of persona even without you having to Tell it, that way bringing your characters to life in the reader’s head too.
Example: ** loud thuds in the ceiling**
-Character: “BLOOD OF JESUS!! HOLY GHOST FIRE KILL THEM!!” (Goes to show that your character is quite spiritual and most likely attends a Pentecostal Prayer house church)
-Character: “These rats don start again” (Goes to show that your character doesn’t quite believe in ‘spiritual attacks’)
The other side to your Character template should be about what these characters’ role are in the whole story. It should have your main Character and also other characters and how they relate to each other over the course of the whole novel. It’s more like a blurb on each character.
ChukwumaOkedigbo(Main Character): First class A+Graduate of Yale University who returns to Nigeria in search of greener pasture after spending 4 years of post-graduate years in Texas with nothing to show for it. He meets Aliu Mustapha who has been through worse things in his long walk of life and they go through life together until they find out the truth that none of them was ever supposed to know.
Aliu Mustapha (M.C’s Friend): Second Class upper Graduate of University of Ibadan who was orphaned at the age of 9. After 8 unproductive post-graduate years, decides to take a bold step to relocate to Lagos without knowing anybody. He stumbles upon the MC and they become best friends, which only lasted for a short period before the truth brings a sudden turn of things between him and the MC
Chinonye Mustapha(MC’s girlfriend): (Describe this characters relationship with the MC and how it ends over the course of the story).
Note: The descriptions about other characters should be in relation to the main Character.
These are the Genesis of a story, it’s more like the first time you met your Boy/Girlfriend when you didn’t know this person and look how much the both of you have influenced each other now (Both positively and negatively)- now that’s how a story is.
Anyway, this is where this part ends today, if you thought it great and are ready to star up a new phase of your Writing life, then be sure to do the Exercise below:
EXERCISE: MAKE A CHARACTER TEMPLATE ON THE M.C FOR YOUR CURRENT Work In Progress.
It’s that’s simple eh! :) Get it published on here and let’s see how it looks.
Be sure to add the tag: The Quill and your story title.
I’m off now and there sure is more coming your way.
Some credits go to E.J. Runyon -I learnt this one from her ;)