Do you want to get to know your fictional characters?
Do you feel like you and your characters need to bond?
Don’t despair! I have an amazing new trick for writing better characters. It involves two of my favourite pastimes; writing and shopping.
As writers we need to create interesting and compelling characters because no one will enjoy reading about them if they are dull and lifeless.
We have to make our imaginary friends come alive and to do this we need to know them inside out.
I have been reading a lot of writing craft books and they all seem to suggest filling out questionnaires in order to get to know your characters. This is a great technique but if you want to take things a step further and really enjoy yourself at the same time – take your imaginary friends shopping! Yay!
Going shopping with your fictional characters is a great way of getting to know them. Very similar to going shopping with a new friend.
Now for this post I am using clothes shopping as an example but I am sure taking your fictional characters food or furniture shopping will also reveal some interesting insights.
Here is how to get to know your characters better by taking them shopping:
- Make sure you only have one character in mind when you hit the shops. Don’t have a gang of characters in your head, all trying to get our attention and complaining about your shop choices. Keep things simple.
- Think about which shops would appeal to your character. Are they in touch with high fashion trends? Or is being bang on trend in terms of clothes the last thing on their life priority list? For historical characters you might have to improvise or hot foot it down a local museum.
- Think about your character’s financial status. Would this influence their shopping trip? Would they be flashing the cash or would they be using money they haven’t got? My character Roxy would definitely be raiding her weekly household money to buy her clothes for a hot date.
- When you enter a shop think about which clothes rails would catch your character’s eye. What sort of clothes would they gravitate towards? Are they attracted by sequins and tight leather? *Sigh* Are your characters drawn to the denim counter or would their heart sing out in the knit wear section?
- Think about their clothing colour choices. Would they choose colours that compliment their skin and hair colouring? Would they even care about the green jumper not going with their pink hair? Have you got a character who will wear matching outfits or do you have one who looks like they have got dressed in the dark?
- In terms of decision-making – how quick would they make a decision on clothing items? Would they have to go to hundreds of shops before making a decision or would they buy in the first shop you visited?
- How would your character act towards other shoppers? Would they struggle to keep their excitement under control if they spotted a bargain? If they had to make a complaint about an item of clothing or the service in a shop – how would that work? I am sure all you crime writers might have an interesting take on this given your evil characters.
- Think about what your character would talk to you about whilst you are both shopping. This is an important task to do because it will get you to think about what sort of things would be on their mind. What would they want to talk about whilst you both browsed through clothes rails? What would be on their mind?
- Think about how your character would approach a clothes fitting room scenario? Would they be wrestling with clothing items behind the curtain? Would you hear them groaning as they squeezed themselves into a tight sequined mini dress or a pair of skin tight trousers?
- Don’t forget about your character’s underwear purchasing choices. I do get a bit frustrated with some authors who don’t reveal what I call vital underwear detail. You can get some great character insights from underwear choices. Are they going for matching underwear? Do they even own underwear? Would love to know what sort of underwear handsome elves or mystical warriors are wearing these days? Check out this REALLY useful post on how underwear choices can reveal stuff about your personality. BTW – did you know wearing big granny pants means you enjoy a spot of procrastinating? Must invest in some new underwear to get my book finished!
So, the next time you need to get to know a character better – take them shopping!
Just make sure you don’t ask your character for fashion advice once it comes to your turn for clothes shopping. I get the feeling writers and their characters have very different tastes in fashion.
Have a great day!