How many times have you read an article that started with: John said to Mary and Mary said to John. All the emotion and gestures were left out. When I read something like this, I often think of robots….Where is the emotion? Where is the real life?
Next time you are trying to write vivid characters try this: John looked sternly at Mary. Lowering his eyes he mumbled his response. This definitely gives John a human touch and shows his feelings of both anger and sorrow. When he lowered his eyes, it showed that he did feel sorry and could not look Mary in the eyes.
Future Debbie and Joe have just received news that they are having a baby boy. Now you could just write the above sentence as is, or you could add some love to it.
Joe hollers from the bedroom, Debbie answer the phone. Walking quickly, Debbie picks up the phone and hears Dr. Herman’s voice on the phone. After hear the news, Debbie sits on the couch and runs her hand through her hair. Her heart is beating fast and sweat begins erupting on her skin. Quieting she calls out for Joe. With the TV on so loud Joe cannot hear his wife.
Walking to the bedroom where Joe is playing a video game, she stands in the doorway and stares at her husband. Looking up Joe drops the video controller and quickly walks toward Debbie. “What is it Deb? Are you okay?” Putting her face close to Joe’s, Debbie whispers, ”It’s a boy.”
Now isn’t that a more dramatic and creative way to write this proud and amazing moment. The reader will just stay glued to the page to find out how Joe reacted to the news!
Think of a to show Joe’s reaction to being a new father can be written. Showing the joy that Joe feels.
Here are some ideas: He jumped up and down; he laughed until he cried. He hugged his wife Debbie, and they both laughed and cried together. There are so many emotions that could be put here. Or….If you want to really get the story and show some depth to the character…Joe smiled and walked away. Now that line adds drama and a lot of questions in the readers mind.
Here are more ways to create good characters:
Always remember that you want to show emotion and movement. It’s much better than just saying John slammed the door or Debbie cried. Giving your characters life is the best way to make that come alive on the page and get your reader to love them. Listed below are a few more ideas. After reading this, I suggest that you get a notebook and list every movement and emotion that you can think of. When you begin to build your characters, refer to your notebook and work in some of the movements and emotions that we have discussed here.
Remember! Your characters must jump off the page.
What are they wearing? You don’t have to be long-winded about this. John’s blue tie was wrinkled and did not match is green shirt.
Debbie’s white dress is way above her knees. She never cared about style.
John’s pants were very baggy. Why doesn’t he buy new clothes.
In the first sentence, it shows John might be color-blind. In the second, Debbie is her own person and could care less about what others are doing. In the last, John appears to be tightfisted with money and does not care about his appearance.
Short Story Versus Novel
In a story, you have less room to put in good character descriptions, but then again you have less characters, so make the most of using your gestures and movements. Even in a short story, characters must jump off the page.
In a novel, you have more room for some fluff, but be careful, if it’s not interesting, the reader will pass right over it.
Use the suggestions and you will see a dramatic change in your writing. You will be published more and Yes. You will make money as a writer.
Remember, just keep writing. Practice a lot and send out a lot. Don’t worry about rejections; learn from them.