Tips to Make Characters Real: Write StrongReaders are looking for strong stories and narratives they can relate to; descriptive details are the driver. Readers want to meet our characters. It’s up to us to shape characters by describing the details of what they are doing, smelling, hearing, seeing, touching or tasting.
To make characters relatable and lively, choose the details that distinguish them. Ask, what makes that character catch attention? How can I give the reader more information that develops their impression of the character? Is he shy? How will I express his shyness, self-importance or anger? Does she choose to wear a pantsuit or colorful huge flower beachwear? Describe how people react when they see or speak to him or her.
Bring the reader into the scene with emphasis. Does a fierce black dog charge him while rides his bike on the trail? Is a knock on the front door frightful and foreboding? How do people act when anywhere near his cigar smoke that chokes them? Oh, fresh baked bread at the coffee shop! Let’s go, s'il vous plaît!
Details will be brief if a character has a minor role in the story, but it may grow as the story unfolds.
I’ve heard about the fun practice of preparing a word basket (or jar) filled with scraps of paper—one word per scrap. The basket could become your go-to place for inspiring creative descriptions in a story or metaphor: paradox or poem. What words catch your attention? Grab it and add it to your basket. Consider sensory adjectives, strong verbs, and nouns. Here are some: flood, moon, glow, crack, sputter, knock, blossom, mirror, distort, dominate, negate, underpin, float, sink, water, precipice, or crag. Have fun; pull a random page from your dictionary to get started. My fav right now is s'il vous plaît.
Things easy to do— but best to avoid:
• Beware of description dumps.
• Traveling tangents—Stay on point.
• Slowing down your story or narrative—Use whatever works for moving it forward.
Book suggestions for descriptive writing growth:
• Understanding Show, Don’t Tell, by Janice Hardy
• Make a Scene, by Jordan Rosenfeld
• Word Painting, by Rebecca McClanahan
Earlier Post links in this series—Descriptive Writing for Fiction and Non-Fiction:
Tips for Character Driven Description: http://www.writersonthemove.com/2020/09/tips-for-character-driven-description.html
Senses & POV Tips: http://www.writersonthemove.com/2020/07/senses-pov-tips-descriptive-writing.html
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