What are your experiences with creating characters? I had a pretty incredible experience tonight while writing that I felt like sharing.
It might help you if you’re having trouble with bringing your own characters to life.
I was walking in the snow to my college’s library to use the computers there (my laptop is slowly edging for the dump) and some half-formed lines popped into my head.
“She breathed in the frigid air, rolled it over her tongue, and popped her gum.”
Getting random, semi-jumbled sentences like that out of nowhere is pretty common for a lot of writers, I think. Anyway, I got to the library, opened up word, and put down those lines. I had no clue what kind of person I was writing about apart from the gender but I took a few guesses and started typing what felt right. I stopped trying to write what sounded ‘good’ to me or follow any guidelines. I just went stream-of-consciousness, putting down whatever seemed right for that character.
Pretty soon I had the page filled and I stopped having to think about what I was writing. The character genuinely “came to life” and I had the sensation of being an observer as opposed to a director. Everything flowed around that character and emerged organically from them. It was all I could do to keep up with their thoughts and actions.
In maybe 30 minutes I had a person with life and blood and flesh, more real to me than characters in the past I had spent months trying to plan out.
I moved on to the next character and did the same, starting with a few random thoughts I’d been toying with and letting the character grow naturally out of that. I had no idea what they would be like at the start, but after another half an hour I felt like I was facing a real person with their own autonomy. I didn’t have to think about what they would do next – they just did it.
I forgot where I was and wrote for a couple hours. It didn’t seem like work, it felt like I was just allowing myself to operate as a medium so that the characters could express themselves. I’m still kinda on a writing high from it.
I’ve always heard famous authors talk about how their characters come to life and I always figured it was nothing more than a figure of speech, but tonight I understood the depth of that statement.
TL;DR By letting my characters appear spontaneously and organically from nothing but a few random lines, I “brought them to life” in a way I didn’t know was possible.