We, as authors, put our characters into situations and let them loose. Then we make notes as to what they do, who they like, what they know, and all the baggage they drag along behind them. Eventually we picture a face, a build, an age, etc. and note that too. The more situations our characters face the better we know them the better we can flesh him out.
How to share what we know with the reader?
1st impression – give the reader something right away, just like when you meet someone at a party. Start slowly. Think incredibly tall, great skin, too fat, cheap haircut, intelligent, shy, too in-your-space, sarcastic, stinky perfume, etc. I’ve read more than one story where the main character assigned a label like long nose hairs.
Does it match their role – studmuffin, housewife, paperboy, etc. How will the archetype change to be more realistic, or life like? Long nose hair could be an uppity kind of professor. His nose is prominent because he looks down at people.
Adjust to suit – As we all know first impressions can be misleading and very hard to forget, so look for depth, inner conflicts, and inconsistencies within the character. Make sure you know what is really going on behind those eyes? Is their humor funny or a barrier to hide behind? Or is cruelty their an attempt at naked honesty.
And keep track, Use any method that suits like index cards for example. This will help to keep each character consistent and within their spectrum.
Add some easy to remember tags. To keep your characters as individual as possible and help the reader distinguish one from the other, use tags. The most common ones fall under name, appearance, voice, behavior (thoughts & actions), & body language. Gage the number of identifiers with the character’s role and how often they make an appearance. If they only show up twice, they may only get a job title or hair color.
I’ll be posting more on tags next month. Anyone else have suggestions on making characters pop from the first impression. I’d love some tips myself. 🙂