Keeping It Real: Characters/Happy Birthday Kairi!

First off, today is super duper special and I'm super duper excited because today is my Lovely Kairi's Birthday!

*Explosions...Confetti Blasts...Partying Squirrels*

I have dates set for all of my characters Birthdays, and on that day I celebrate them in all the ways that I can!

Kairi here is the main character in my second ATREA Series, and in celebration of the day of her birth I'm drinking a ton of Coke (Her favorite!), drawing pictures of her, snuggling an adorable Panda I named after her (It's so fluffy!), and reading through my old books she's featured in. It's been a long time since I've opened up those documents, and it's really great to see her and the rest of the gang again! I hadn't realized how much I missed writing with them until now!

And, last December, was my other Lovely Casper's Birthday, where I celebrated with buying an old adorable copy of Puss,N,Boots, his favorite, and drank a bunch of Apple Cider! 

I love creating characters that are so real to me that I can celebrate their Birthday, or carry on hour long conversations with them in my head, or spend days stuck in their world, traveling with them and watching them tell me their story.

I love real characters, and that's exactly what I'm going to talk about in today's post!

Keeping It Real: Characters

How can we create characters that are so life-like?

Reading Harry Potter, you get to know the character as much as you do your best friend. Reading Percy Jackson you can hear the characters voices and you laugh out loud. Reading The Mortal Instruments you can imagine the characters as clearly as if you were seeing them right in front of you. 

All of these authors and more have done something incredibly hard to accomplish--they dug deep, then dug even deeper, and found the roots of their characters, and just like that: they brought them to life, and made them living, just like me and you.

Now, though I know many fabulous authors who have done this successfully, there are some I know that tried and failed, or didn't even seem to try at all!

You know those bland, flat character who really don't have any personality what-so-ever? Those that go by the title "The smart kid" or "The popular girl"? Yeah, those are one sided characters that are literally stereotypical and, basically, just ridiculously boring and annoy me like nobodies business.

I know many characters like these by many authors, but I'm not going to name names or point fingers because, who knows, you might stumble upon one of them and see something redeemable about them that I failed to understand.

All of this is interesting, but, really, how do the authors do it so perfectly, when it's a hard thing to have a double sided character? Or even a three sided character, or maybe four or five or six or.

You get the point.

Well, considering Characterization is something that I absolutely love, I'll do my best to answer:

You add layers.

Imagine a chart in your mind--or even draw it out on a bit of paper or in your notebook. In your mind/Notebook/ect, draw a small straight line going left to right, like this:
                                  Front: What You Learn at First Glance

This line represents the characters front. 

This is everything that, at first glance, is apparent. Because when we meet a person in real life, we don't know every single detail about them and who they are. At first glance we only know what we see,a nd what we can guess about. It's their appearance--are they big and buff? Slender and child-like?--as well as how they speak and act around strangers. They may speak kindly to people they don't know, or maybe they don't have any respect for anyone and are rude, or maybe they're shy and don't even speak at all! Think about this--really think about it--and write it above the first line.

Next draw another line above that one, a bit bigger:

                                 Monitored Thoughts/Actions/Speech

This is your character's ordinary personality. 

This line is all of the things they say and do in front of people they are familiar with. This line is all of the simple thoughts when they're going about their day, and, in a way, basically who they are in general, maybe a bit monitored depending on who they're around, and who your character is.

Next line above that one, even bigger now. 

                                                 Natural Thoughts

This line represents your characters mind.

 This line is all of their raw, real thoughts that course through their own, private brain without being monitored. More than the line before, this line is who your character really is. This is them being themselves--maybe your character is openly honest or can't keep their mouth shut, and this line isn't quite so private, or perhaps your character is incredibly secretive and never says a word about themselves to others. Whatever the case may be, think hard about your characters thought process--How do they think? What do they truly like/dislike?

And now, the last line, the smallest, at the very top.


This line is special to your character. 

This is the line that holds all of their secrets and dreams and desires--their motive for the story, if you will. This is the line that says they want parents, or friends, or an adventure, or a home, or love. This is the line that drives the character to act again and again--this is what they want, more than anything.

You should have something that looks a bit like this:

                                                       Natural Thoughts
                                        Monitored Thoughts/Action/Speech
                                      Front: What You Learn at First Glance

Now you've created a chart that looks a bit like a deformed triangle, but it's close enough, right? Write in little thoughts and descriptions and sentences above each line about your chosen character. 

But this is just an exercise to get to know your character a bit, and to keep them realistic. But there's still plenty more.

Another thing I want to say is to add flaws to your characters.

This part is so incredibly important, and it will bring your character to life and you'll see them sitting on the couch beside you within seconds!

What's a perfect character, in your mind? Imagine them now. Perhaps its a tall girl with curly blonde hair and big blue eyes? Maybe a guy with pale skin and dark hair?

Whatever it is, they're perfect, right? They may be kind and caring or daring and reckless--but this is just exactly how one sided characters are created. Add more to them. Add layers.

A perfect character is a boring character. 

Have that heavy metal skater boy have a weakness for adorable puppies. Have that burly truck driver have a secret dream to fall in love. Have that smart girl who everyone thinks is perfect miss her parents everyday of her life. Have that ignorant, careless rebel secretly just wants someone to pay attention to him, because his mom is in jail and his dad is a lazy drunk who lays on the couch all day.

Give flaws, give secrets, give layers.

Give them a chipped tooth, unique colored eyes, different thoughts. Every character has their personality and a secret, or maybe more than one, that pushes them through their story.

Dig deep into your character--find the roots of who they are and make it bigger, better, more flawed, more real. Make it rough and realistic.

I'll have more on characterization later, because there is so much to talk about, but for now I'll leave you with this extremely long post!

Do you celebrate your characters birthdays? Do you have any tips and tricks or thoughts on keeping your characters realistic? Share in the comments!

Thanks for reading!