Unfortunately, when it comes to creating characters – extroverted people who flourish in social situations tend to have a lot more social experience which can be useful when it comes to writing realistic dialogue and characters.
But what about the rest of us? What if you’re someone who isn’t exactly at their best in the presence of other people? What if you’re someone who is only truly at ease in solitude or in a fairly limited range of social situations?
How do we write good characters? Here are a few tips that might come in handy?
1) Use your experience: If you’re the kind of interesting, introspective person who doesn’t flourish in social situations, then this doesn’t mean that you don’t have any life experiences to draw on when it comes to creating characters. You do, it’s just slightly different.
Because, chances are, you’ve probably experienced and/or endured your fair share of social situations. After all, how would you know that you don’t flourish in the vast majority of social situations if you haven’t experienced these situations before?
But, unlike the kind of people who flourish in these kinds of situations – you have a different perspective on them. Unlike people who “fit in” almost everywhere, you get to see everything from the outside.
Even if you’ve got so good at the all-consuming and soul-destroyingly exhausting task of appearing to be more social/extroverted than you actually are that it’s almost second-nature to you, then this will still give you a very different perspective to the one you would have if you were someone who felt totally natural and/or at ease in these situations.
Not only does this mean that you have an instant advantage when it comes to writing realistic “outsider”, “rebel”, “eccentric” etc… characters, but it also means that you’re more likely to see “ordinary” people and situations in a slightly different way.
You’re probably more likely to notice the weird, superficial, awkward and/or annoying parts of social situations that most people take for granted. And, if you add these observations to your story or comic, then you can give your work a unique perspective that more extroverted writers are probably going to miss. Likewise, this also means that it’s a lot easier to create cynically satirical characters too.
2) Composites: If you’re the kind of cool person who prefers solitude to social situations, then there’s a good chance that you’ve had to fill this solitude with something.
In other words, whilst some people spend a lot of their time checking social media and making small talk – you’ve spent a lot of your time in different ways. You’ve probably spent a lot of time reading stuff, watching stuff, playing games etc….
Well, this experience can be an absolute goldmine when it comes to thinking of interesting characters. Why? Because you’ve been exposed to a far greater range of fictional characters and you can draw on this experience to create new and interesting characters of your own.
Whilst you obviously shouldn’t directly copy other people’s characters, there’s no rule against creating new and original characters that are at least partially a composite of several other interesting characters that you have seen.
Whilst you shouldn’t copy any of the superficial elements of these characters (eg: their names, appearances etc…), you can borrow more subtle things – like their personality, their worldview etc…. as well as adding a lot of your own imagination too, of course.
3) Focus on other things: Whilst characters are one of the most important parts of any story, they aren’t the be all and end all. If you aren’t that good at writing or thinking of characters, then there are plenty of other things that you can focus on that will still make your story interesting.
You can come up with clever storylines, you can use a really interesting narrative voice, you can come up with really interesting fictional locations, you can include lots of humour etc…
Although badly-written characters might put some people off of your story, there are plenty of other things that you can focus on instead to compensate for this.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂