A couple of weeks ago, I was tagged by Jordyn Hadden over at Indie Edits with J for this character-centered blog tag! And as an author who loves characters, I was thrilled for the excuse to talk about some of my own, haha. Thanks, Jordyn!
Here are the rules:
- Thank the blogger who tagged you, and leave a link back to their blog. (See above)
- Leave a link back to the creator of the tag. (Same person – Jordyn created this!)
- Answer the questions honestly.
- Tag 3+ friends to do the tag on their own blogs!
And now on to the questions!
Who’s your favorite character you’ve ever created?
Ah, I always say that picking a favorite character feels like picking a favorite child. They’re all so real to me, and I’m very fond of all of them. But for the sake of choosing one, I’ll say that Captain Gideon Gills from Cabin Girl is very high on the list. And he’s definitely the most unique character I’ve ever written, too!
Even though his personality is the complete opposite of mine, he’s actually been one of the easiest characters to write. From day one, it felt like he just marched onto the page and I didn’t have to consciously ‘make him’ do anything. If I tried, it just felt forced and unnatural. So it’s been a great adventure to follow him around and witness his headstrong, determined, and alliteration-adoring personality in action. A lot of action!
Which of your characters is most like you, and why?
This is a hard one, because so many of my protagonists over the years have been similar to me. And while I reasoned that the similarities would make writing about them more realistic, I always tried to make sure they were different from me in some way too. They couldn’t be just like me.
I think the very closest to me though would probably be the protagonist from one of my medieval fantasy novels: Luna. Because of a unique, amnesia-inducing curse, she’s always a bit clueless and naïve, which I can relate to more often than I want to admit sometimes. Mostly though, she’s quieter, she hates conflict, she has a shy but witty sense of humor, and she is the often-overlooked ‘glue’ that holds her friend group together.
Which of your characters is least like you, and why?
Hm, my first thought is also to say Gills from Cabin Girl. He’s pretty much my opposite in every way. But since I’ve already discussed him, another character that’s very different from me would be one of the protagonists of the dystopian novel I wrote last year: Dylan.
Dylan is a mechanically-minded, brave, and extremely determined person, who’s certain enough of his abilities and logic that he can be sure of himself when making decisions. He’s also deathly loyal and, once warmed up, will do anything to provide for someone he cares about. His bravery, certainty and logical mind are all things I usually lack, haha.
Who was your first main character?
Technically, I had lots of main characters from various little stories in my childhood, but my first main character from a novel was a girl named Launya Terento. To this day, she’s one of my very favorites; the protagonist of a series of Star Wars novels I wrote starting when I was eleven. While I don’t know what I’ll end up doing with those books, the stories and characters are still very near to my heart.
Launya herself is one of my favorites because she’s the complete opposite of me and was very fun to write. Bold, energetic, and always ready for an adventure, as well as reckless, snarky, and headstrong. She said a lot of things I could never get away with saying in my own life, and she certainly got in trouble for it too, haha. Her relationship with her mentor (a soft-spoken and grieving man) was a fascinating dynamic to write.
What is the personality of the main character of your current work-in-progress?
I have four novels in-progress currently, but I’ll just go with the protagonist of Cabin Girl right now, Éirinn O’Connell. As I just talked about in this post, she’s a soft-spoken, timid, and caring person who slowly grows braver and more sure of who she is (or rather, Whose she is) as the story progresses. At first glance, she’s very similar to me, but she’s also far better at being logical and organized, and her level of trust in God inspires me.
What’s your favorite character trope?
The grouchy or stubborn mentor who’s actually softhearted, but hides it due to past trauma. Almost every novel of mine has this character in some capacity, and I love it. Although I’ve been branching out lately and trying different types of characters and plots, I always like coming back to this character trope, just for how comfortable it feels, and how much room there is for character development and growth with the theme.
Fill in the blank: I have a disproportionate number of ____ characters.
Loyal but troublemaking male companions with dry, witty humor. I don’t know why, but looking back, most my novels have one of these characters. I suppose it’s probably because I’ve mostly written female protagonists so far, and I like having a balance in the main circle of characters between male and female. So if my female is protagonist, typically the main companion is male, and his personality is usually that of a troublemaking ‘older brother’ who will do anything to help the protagonist but won’t admit it.
And for those wondering, no, it doesn’t end in romance. Not that it couldn’t end up happening if I continued the story into a series, but at least for the initial novel, it’s just a fun friendship to write. Like real life I guess; ideally, you need a friendship before anything more, and I’ve never gotten to that point with any of my characters yet.
What type of character would you like to write someday?
This is a tricky question! I’ve actually written a lot of different types of characters; different ages, backgrounds, personalities, dialects, races, etc. Scrolling through various articles on fiction character archetypes, I can list at least one character for just about every category, which is actually neat! It’s almost like characters are my favorite part of writing novels, haha.
I haven’t written many elderly characters however, and especially not as protagonists, so that’ll be my answer. It would be a challenge I think, as I’ve mostly written characters around my age, but I personally would like to see more novels with older characters given roles beyond the ‘wise, old mentor’.
What’s your best tip for character development?
Stop thinking about them as just characters. They’re people. And before you call me crazy, yes, I realize they’re not real people, haha. But within your story, they’re as real as you are in your own life. So how your characters speak, act, and feel should reflect that.
People are diverse, they’re deep, and they’re nearly impossible to understand completely. We all have quirks, dreams, fears, pet peeves, passions, talents, tendencies, and longings. We’ve all grown up with different childhoods, in different situations, and through different hardships. The lessons we’ve learned, the challenges we’ve faced, the strengths and weaknesses we’ve developed are unique. No one’s personality will match anyone else’s!
So the single best thing I’ve found that helps me develop characters is just to think of them as real people. Which means they can’t be shallow. I need to spend time with them, study them, and really put effort into understanding what makes them them. What do they believe? What do they most want? What are their greatest fears? And then ask why. Why do they believe those things? Why do they act the way they do, or say the things they say?
There are many good ways to get to know our characters better (questionnaires, character interviews, personality typing, etc.) but for me, as long as I’m remembering to make them nuanced, believable imitations of reality, I’m on the right path. And just as I’d get to know a friend better and better as time goes on, I’ll be learning more and more about this character as I embark on the writing journey with them. We don’t have to know everything from the very start! Just follow your character’s lead and see what feels natural.
Well, thank you for joining me on this trip down character lane today, haha! I really enjoyed answering these questions, and I hope you enjoyed reading through them as well.
I was going to tag three people for this, but I really just want to hear about characters from everyone! So I’m going to leave this open-ended, and if you’re reading this, please consider yourself tagged. Feel free to do this on your own blog, or in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you and learn all about YOUR characters!