How to keep your characters from feeling interchangeable? (1/2)
I’ve talked a little bit about how to expand your writing on a sentence level by expanding your vocabulary, etc. But now, I want to discuss characters and how to practice making them unique rather than interchangeable.
There are two ways of looking at this. First, all the characters in a particular story read and feel the same and it’s difficult to tell them apart, and second, all the characters across the author’s many stories feel the same, particularly their point-of-view characters.
This second one is interesting in the romance industry because it often means that a character who was once a side character in someone else’s story becomes the lead character in their own, only, they end up feeling like a completely different person because they read like the previous main character instead of who they’d been in that previous story. (As an example, because this reads a little confusing: Paul’s story is great. Paul is friends with side character, Lyle. Lyle is beloved by fans. Author writes book about Lyle next. Only Lyle suddenly acts like Paul rather than the Lyle everyone loved.)
So I’m going to address ways in which to help out with both these situations in two different posts since they are actually different things entirely.
First, how to keep characters in the same book from all reading the same.
1) Give each character a unique physical/visible trait.
This has to do with imagery. You want a different image in each reader’s mind when you bring up a specific character in your story. A lot of people need something physical to latch on to, something that helps paint a picture in their imagination. So giving each person a particular physical trait can make all the difference.
When I say unique, I mean unique. If all the characters have brown hair, then brown hair isn’t unique. If all the characters have scars across their faces, then the scars aren’t unique. You see this often in stories where you’ll have the blond-haired one, the brown-haired one and the red-haired one as a set of three. That’s one way to do it… Continue reading