Writers have all sorts of tricks and techniques they use while plotting out the flesh and bones of a story. One method I’ve found to be helpful for character development is talking out loud to myself. Sounds stupid, right? And or crazy. But no, it’s just another element in my writer’s toolbox.
When it comes to forming characters – their motives, relationships, backstories, and their arcs (negative and positive) – I’ve found that writing down the details really helps. Actually penning (or typing) their internal and external conflicts, a brief backstory, and what their connection is to the main character is a very valuable exercise. But I’ve found that more than anything else, discussing the characters out loud helps solidify them in my mind as real people. Who they are. What their angle in the story is. Why they’re in this relationship and why they quit that job. Actually saying these things out loud and forcing myself to articulate them, has really been a great way to form them more fully in my mind.
So why is that so important? Because it’s crucial to know who your characters are. Not just what they look like or what they do for a living, but really WHO they are. What drives them. What scares them. What draws them to one character and what makes them keep their guard up around another. What their goals are and what past failures or circumstances are still taking a toll on them now.
Just like when I talk to people in my real life about my daily struggles and wins, talking about my characters in that same way can bring out and highlight their relatable aspects. It can even help build a better structure for the story as a whole as I verbally work it all out.
For me, it’s similar to the practice of reading my work out loud to better look for mistakes, inconsistencies and wordy – or just wrong – sentences. Talking out loud to myself about my characters before they even hit the page helps me to weed out what doesn’t make sense. It helps me to pull them into the right perspective and really pin down what it is about each one that I want the reader to latch on to. It helps me to justify their actions and keeps me accountable when it comes to all questions of why. Why did character A do that? Why didn’t character B do this? Why are characters A and B together? Why did they break up? Why did that event happen? Why is character C so mean? Why does character D keep defending character C? And every other why question that pops into my head about the people I’ve created to go through the adventure in front of them.
Call me weird, but I truly believe that talking to yourself about your fictional friends is a good thing. I mean let’s face it, If I don’t truly know my characters, then my readers will struggle to connect with them, and connecting is what it’s all about.
Check out my new book Horns & Halos: Against The Giant HERE! Follow Allyster Williams as he struggles through living in a segregated world where people are separated, judged, and confined by their horns and halos. But everyone has their moment to stand up for what’s right, even when that moment comes at a great cost.