Tag Archives: Writers Resources

Character building

22 Jun

charactersWhen writing characters  – those that do – how do you start?

Is it with someone in your mind, someone you know, or may have met in the past?

Do you build a character around a particular hair colour maybe, or a quirk you want them to have? A tick, habit or catchphrase maybe?

I recently wrote a short story, which turned out to be part of a longer one, and managed to incorporate a character I have been dying to write about for ages. It just happens to be someone I come in to contact with every now and then and I just knew he would make a fascinating character. For no other reason than I found him interesting – his looks, his mannerisms (especially those) and the whole way he held himself.

I wonder, do other writers do that too? Do you meet someone and immediately you know you will write about them. Maybe not straight away, but you’ll store the details away for later. Keeping them in that pocket of your brain reserved for such things.

Of course, if any of us do admit that yes, we are guilty of this then we are really letting the cat out of the bag aren’t we? It’s a occupational hazard already isn’t it? Friends, family, people we barely know recognising themselves in our stories. Although from what I’ve heard, they often get it wrong.

Oh, and another funny point. It seems few mean or unlikeable characters are recognised by the people who they are actually ‘loosely based on’. FACT.

That’s not a fact at all, but I bet it’s true.

Whatever you admit to and however you build your characters, they are the key to good read aren’t they? I was given some great advice by a former tutor who said to build character you have to really know them. That you should ‘live with your character.’ Know what they eat and drink, what they watch on tv, who they like and dislike, where they live, where they come from, what makes them tick, what pisses them off. Go to bed with them and wake up with them in the morning (in your head that is)  he advised. I agree, for me, I have to know the why before I know the what of my character. I need to know exactly what they are about before they go about anything.

How about you?

I write therefore I am.

21 Jun


A question I have often asked, read, seen, discussed:

“When does one become a writer?”

That is, when does one, in answer to the question “What do you do?” answer “I am a writer.” (Or, maybe “I. Am a writer”).

Or when filling out a form does one put ‘writer’ as ones occupation?

Certainly not when one is using this very formal pronoun that’s for sure. Let’s stop that business right now.

So when do you really become a writer?

Isn’t it oh so pretentious to admit – out loud and in public – that you write.

Do people not instantly make a judgement that you are either a) too lazy to work and pretend to write in order to spend all day looking at silly videos and updating your status on Facebook?;  b) far too involved in your own anal regions to require any further dealings with?; c) a bored housewife?

I’m afraid it’s all of the above.

But there are writers out there. Real ones. That write books and everything. I know there are.

I know some of them and they are proud to say I AM A WRITER – in shouty capital letters no less.

So as a writer (in whispery letters so that no one really hears), how do I make that jump?

Discussing this last night with two fellow writers – one of them slightly less whispery than me and the other a bit more shouty, but still in denial – we all agreed it was about confidence. The confidence in your writing to put it out there. Having the confidence to send your work off and face rejection time and time again. Self publicity is the way forward for most unpublished, aspiring writers. Even more so if you decide to self publish it seems.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Stumble upon, Reddit etc, etc. In fact, all those funny boxes you see at the end of my ramblings (called Widgets don’t you know). Press them and your words shoot off in to the stratosphere and are there for millions of eyes to see if they choose to look.

And there’s a stumbling block right there.

Obviously it’s about privacy.

Obviously it’s insecurity.

Obviously I’m ever-so-pretentiously writing – and everyone will know it.

One of my writer friends talks about the “who do you think you are” theory that can come from years of comments from family/teachers and the like. Really, who the hell do you think you are presuming you can do that?

Yes, there’s that too.

But I have to make that jump some time soon or my much toiled over book is never going to see the light of day.

For me, writing isn’t something I have to do it’s something I HAVE to do. Like scratching an itch, or emptying the bin. My brain has to empty its words in this way. Sometimes, so I’m told, it’s not all bad either.

I’m lucky I have my fellow writer friends who encourage me to take the leap. Though I think even they are a little bored with the teetering I’m doing. One such friend took the leap herself and is now the proud owner of her own published novel. Take a look, it’s a great family saga that looks at the intricate way lies weave themselves in to family life.

One Hidden Truth, Pamela Darling https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pamela-Darling/579108268781650

She herself admits to moments of doubt still. I know other published writers who feel the same. The dreaded second novel. The fear of losing the words. The worry it won’t be liked by your followers. The dreaded WB (can’t possibly spell it out for fear of bringing it on; it’s unlucky.)

But all of these are fears you have to live with as a writer. They should feed your fire not douse it. It’s okay that some people won’t like your work. It’s fine that some may see you as a bit pretentious. And yes, most people you know will assume at least one of your characters is based on them. But you have to learn to accept all of this.


Oh, and you really DO have to learn to stop procrastinating and get on with it…


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