Have you ever found that your character’s are suddenly acting completely opposite to their personalities? All of a sudden, it gets extremely hard to write your character’s correctly.
For SURE, I have struggled with this before, so I decided to come up with 4 super effective steps that I’m going to show you guys which really helped me begin to bring out my character’s unique voices, and keep them the same the whole way through-and I believe they’ll help yours too.
Let’s get started!
Step One: Finding Their Personality ‘Type’
What I seriously suggest is using one of the 16 personality types by Myers and Briggs. I did a post on it, and ever since I learned about these different ‘types’, creating solid character personalities and voices has never been more fun or easier!
I remember when I noticed bloggers or writers using a ‘type’ for their characters. I thought of it as stereotypical, and completely conveying any lack of imagination. Having a ‘type’ already thought up for you? HAH, where in the world is the creativity in THAT?
…WHY AM I ALWAYS SO WRONG!!!!?
…After learning my lesson, I meekly started to learn more about the types and was shocked at how effective and realistic they were!
The reason why using a ‘type’ works is because it really sets in stone your character’s personality which plays an immense part in creating your character’s voice.
(Fun fact: because they’re based off of real people’s personalities in real life, I realized that if I use a type then I automatically know that my character is going to resonate with a certain group of people in the world!)
Alright, so, to get a character type/a concrete personality for your character, you can strategically use MY POST, guys…
…oooorrrrrr, you can fly over to the 16 personalities website where you can answer all the questions as if you were one of your characters from your book.
If you stick faithfully to your character’s personality throughout all the questions, (PURE BETRAYAL IF YOU DON’T) at the end you’ll get an accurate character type (IF YOU DIDN’T BETRAY YOUR CHARACTER THAT IS), which enables you to now label your character a type, and also have an accurate description of who he or she is!
Step Two: Selecting Different Fonts
This is something I took from plus added a bit too from one of Abbie’s post on Character Voice.
She explained that a good way to keep your character’s voice in check was to use a different font for each character. This idea intrigued me, and so I decided to expand on this idea further.
So! Here’s how you effectively do this:
- Once you figure out your character’s type, search for a singular font that conveys your character’s personality.
- Choose a different font for each character you have, and make sure that the fonts reflect the personality of each character. (For example: a funny character might have a jumpy weird font, whereas a cold brooding character might have a dripping, drawling font.)
- And finally, if you ever feel a character is acting out of their character voice/personality, then look at whatever you just wrote, and ask yourself, “Is what my character saying, thinking, feeling, and/or doing reflecting what this font looks like?” (which, in other words, would basically mean: does what their doing feel like they’re personality type?)
I love this whole step! Instead of having to keep looking back again and again on your character’s personality description, simply memorize it at least fairly well in your head, and choose a font that fits as close as possible to their personality, which helps remind you every time on how your character acts.
Step Three: A Quick Hack to For Sure Help You Remember Your Character’s Voice
If you’re still struggling with your character’s personality even with the fonts trick, simply write on the very first page of your document for your book a list of your character’s names and types, like this:
Introvert, serious observer, desire to serve others
Extrovert, vision caster, leader
Extrovert, orderly, practical
This was just an example of a random cast of characters. Of course, there are many ways you can go about doing this. Like, if you really understand personality types, you’ll realize that if a personality starts with an ‘I’ that immediately means it’s an introvert, whereas if it starts with an ‘E’ that automatically means the person is an extrovert. So, if you remember that sort of a thing, you don’t need to put ‘extrovert’ or ‘introvert’ in your quick list.
Also, I put in three main facts about the characters that I thought were important parts to a personality, but honestly you could honestly write their entire description down if you so choose, although, this step is simply supposed to be an effective memory jogger, not another long list.
Anyways, these are just some examples to get some ideas rolling on how to remember and stick to you character’s unique voice!
Step Four: Writing Your First Scene is Actually An Essential Foundation to Creating a Unique Character’s Voice
This is a lengthy yet incredible trick that I learned from Jeff Gerke’s Plot vs Character book.
Jeff Gerke uses this technique to really give you a feel for your character’s Knot/Lie, which I believe is insanely smart. Just for this post, though, I’m going to vaguely skip over the Knot/Lie and go straight into how this affects keeping your characters in check by using their correct personality voices.
Jeff describes how to do this exercise as:
[W]rite a monologue in which he steps onstage in the penultimate way, doing a perfectly typical thing, caught in the ideal surroundings, revealing the essence of who he is. ~Jeff Gerke “Plot Vs. Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction”
Due to copyright reasons, and of course Jeff actually wanting to SELL his books, I can’t clearly provide all the super awesome things you would want to include in your rough draft beginning scene, but, this was the single paragraph that I found most informative, so let’s work through this together as best we can!
Alright, here’s essentially what you need to do:
First things first: You need to know what your character’s Lie is.
Quick definition: Your character is harbouring some deeply held misconception about either himself, the world, or [b]oth.” K.M Weiland: Creating Character Arcs.
He doesn’t even know he has a Lie, and believes things are meant to be the way they currently are.
This is a lengthy adventure in itself to describe the Lie because this one of the biggest things your entire book is based around!
Hence, I can’t go into detail on this right now-I can totally write blog posts on it in the future if you’d like! For now, simply bear in mind this: If this Lie didn’t exist, then your character would not have a problem or a need to change, which means that there would be no story. So, this Lie has to really be something ruining your protagonist’s life, whether they really know it or not.
Second, figure out where your protagonist is in the opening scene. Keep in mind that this scene is going to be the first scene in which readers meet your protagonist. (Although this is only a rough draft, so don’t believe that everything is already set in stone.) Your job here is to give readers a small taste of your protagonist’s knot simply by the things he does, says, thinks, and feels in the scene.
Third, set the mood. The reason why this is important is because; whatever your character is feeling, no matter what emotion, this will make him do and say and think differently, which effects EVERYTHING.
Okay, let’s work this out together!
Let’s say your character’s Lie is that being powerful and rich makes them a better person than everyone else. The opening scene will be your protagonist walking around his castle doing, saying, thinking and feeling things that signify he is better than everyone else.
Here’s an example scene:
Peter strode briskly down the hallway, golden robes spraying out behind him, and the sharp clicking of the heels of his shoes echoing throughout the luxuriant room.
Fingers curling angrily around his gem- studded sword, he seethed, “I TOLD those stupid maids I didn’t want candles on the table, but nooo they wouldn’t listen with all their jabbering about the ‘king’s orders’. Hah! I’m practically the king himself! And NOW look-I have an expensive mess to clean up before father returns from his hunt!”
An annoyed growl escaped Peter’s lips as he threw open the grand, gem incrusted doors to the dining room. They smashed against the walls, sure to leave a permanent indention.
“Another filthy expense.” Peter growled. “And it’s all those maid’s faults! If they hadn’t burnt mother’s tablecloth, I would never have had to be this angry and never would have had to create that dent!”
Okay, so, a bit over the top, I know, but this should suffice for learning purposes.
Now, let’s take a look at the scene a bit in depth:
- Doing: He threw open the doors against the walls, which led to an indention that he blamed on the fact that the maids had made him angry. This clearly shows his Lie through and through; apparently even though he was clearly the one to indent the walls behind the door, he’s too good and powerful of a person for it to really be his fault-obviously it was the maids, because they angered him but lighting the tablecloth on fire. (Which was, of course, an accident on their part).
- Saying: Peter muttering about the ‘stupid maids’ and how they listened to the king himself and yet not him is a perfect example of how self-centred and power-deranged he is.
- Thinking: The whole thing as first person, so basically the whole scenario was him thinking. This is a bit trickier for third person because your character is obviously not shown thinking at every moment-still, it’s something you should definitely keep track of!
- Feeling: He is, of course, angry, but the whole scene was honestly revolving around feeling. Feeling is really important because it effectively sets the mood. If he hadn’t been angry, well, he wouldn’t have walked briskly, growled, smashed the door…basically said and done literally everything in that entire scene.
Likewise, if Peter had been sad, he would have slouched around, maybe been emotional, quiet, sniffling…the scene would have been insanely different. Whatever your character is feeling, no matter what emotion, is going to make him do, say, and think something different every time.
I want you to take note that this exercise in finding you character’s voice is simply an exercise. You don’t even have to use the scene as your first scene once you’re done writing it! But you have to keep the final draft. This exercise was solely meant for you to really get the hang of your character’s voice and personality on paper so that when it comes time to writing your book, you’ll know exactly how to write your character’s voice on paper, knowing confidently in things that they might do, say, think, and feel throughout any situation.
Finally: Putting it All Together
This all adds onto each other.
- First, get a personality type.
- Then, select a font according to the personality.
- Finally, write the very first scene of when that character enters the book in, keeping thorough attention to his personality, and reflecting upon his font.
Write that scene using everything you can, and never look back. The purpose of writing this scene is to let your thoughts out. Go WILD! Use flowery language, be dramatic, do whatever, as long as you make sure you focus fully on bringing out your character’s personality in what they say, how they act.
The strongest way to achieving your character’s exact personality and keeping it throughout your entire book is by using their Knot/Lie. What is, whether they know it or not, ruining your character’s life, and how does that effect everything they’re doing, saying, feeling, and who they are as a person?
Find those answers.
Then write them into your first scene.
If you include the first two elements into the first one, and always refer back to the draft that you loved most, you’ll never have trouble keeping your character’s straight again.
*ALSO FORGIVE ME FOR NOT POSTING ON MONDAY!!!! I was working really hard on this post, but it ended up longer than I’d anticipated it end up being, so I ran out of time yesterday morning as I was going out with my family to an amusement part. Soooo…first time I’ve ever posted on Tuesday, I guess…did you miss me? haha
Have you found your character’s ‘types’ yet?
Will you be trying out any of these steps now?
I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment down below.
Thanks for reading!