Writing Tips

NaNo Prep: Character Traits

Developing your characters is one of the most difficult things when it comes to writing novels. After all, there are only so many things you can do – so many physical traits, so many quirks before things become cliche, overdone, and just plain too “out there” for whatever you’re writing. People say all the time that there are no limits to writing, but in reality, there are. You just have to figure out how to work around those limits to create beautiful and diverse characters.

So how do you do that?

Physicality: Don’t be afraid to break beyond the blond hair and blue eyes, but be mindful of your setting. Don’t give a character purple eyes in a normal universe (unless they’re contacts). Give them stories through their appearance – scars, tattoos, limps. These help develop them as characters.
Quirks: Some people hate this word, but quirks are important to who your character is. Do they mumble? Sing constantly? Hate when people leave glasses on tables without coasters? Once you figure these out, figure out why they do those things. Maybe they mumble because they’re painfully shy or because they think they’re better than others. Maybe because they mumble, they’re made fun of or people get frustrated with them easily which could affect how they interact with others.
Gender: This may significantly affect your character as women and men have very different views of the world depending on what they’ve experienced.
Personality: Are they bubbly? Quiet? Cold? Smart? Their natural personality will develop as you write, but deciding ahead of time the direction you’d like to take can help enhance a character. Also consider the character’s upbringing and how it might have affected their personality.
Relationships: A character’s relationships is almost as important as the character themselves. How they interact with people around them, especially friends and family, if they have any, reveals who they are both to the author as they write and the readers.

Character development can be one of the most difficult aspects of writing, so doing some prep work can save you a lot of frustration later on during writing. NaNo starts in two days, so I hope you’re ready to kick off another month of writing! I’m not ready but I’ll do it anyway!


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