One of the things I see a lot on writing forums are beginning writers asking about characters. It seems that creating characters is challenging to those who are just starting. In reality, they’re not. The problem most people have is they don’t realize that writing comes from the heart. What do I mean by that? Well, here’s a brief explanation.
I created a character named Kate over twenty years ago while I was in middle school and carried her with me until late this past fall. She was a brutal character who could be very violent, and always carried a lot of angst with her. I have Bipolar and when I was coming through the school system, there wasn’t the support programs there are now. In fact, my illness got listed as LD/ED, and it never addressed the issues that lead to being unstable and not able to fit in with the crowd.
That led to a lot of mental abuse from the people around me over the years and that ended up going into Kate. She became the anger, sadness and frustration that I felt over the past. So, all the brutal rage that builds up when one suffers abuse because the reason for her creation.
One day, a kind lady named Maia challenged me. She asked me whether I wanted to be a serious writer, and I decided that the answer was “Yes.” When that happened, a thought arose to create a new character and, PERHAPS, kill Kate off. As I worked on creating the new character, three more came along to create and ensemble cast (which is a post for another day). Things started to change, and a whole new world for the characters morphed off the one I’d already built for Kate.
As I said earlier, the previous character Kate was based off my pain and hurt. The new character, Talia, and her sisters came from the ‘new’ me. Having spent almost three years having regular counseling after my last bipolar breakdown, I came to learn, and accept, who I was. This opened up another side that never had shown itself while writing. Thus, the characters changed.
Hemmingway is famous for saying:
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway
His quote is very true, and I challenge everyone to look deep inside yourself when you’re starting your characterization process and see if there’s any connection, or chemistry, between you the writer and the creation. If that doesn’t exist than the writing won’t feel ‘real,’ and it’ll leave a person wondering what they’ve done wrong.
Writing comes from the heart.