Hey, guys! I’m at ninety-eight freakin’ followers and I swear to the Lord above that if I don’t make it to a hundred before Monday, I will actually cry. But since I’m so close to a hundred, I was wondering if it might be a good time to have a Q&A! So if you have any questions, please leave them down in the comments and I will answer them once I reach a hundred followers (so next week, hopefully).
Anyways, welcome to post three of my ongoing series Writer’s Block. Here are the links to the other posts in the series:
Today we will be talking about keeping characters consistent. So buckle your seatbelts and please keep all appendages inside of the vehicle at all times.
If there is one thing that irks me when I read a book, then it’s inconsistent characters. I absolutely hate it when a character starts out with blue eyes but ends up with green, or when the location of a tattoo changes. It’s just lazy writing. And maybe it’s just me, but it takes away from the experience of reading as a whole.
“But Hailey, I’m only human! I can’t keep all of my characters consistent all the time.”
That, my dear, is where you are (mostly) wrong. To err is human, so unless you’re some kind of fiction-writing supercomputer (in which case, cooooool) then there are going to be some mild discrepancies within your writing. It’s unavoidable and mostly unnoticeable. But most of the time, inconsistencies are avoidable, and I’m here to show you how!
1. Create a Character Bible
I’m not saying write a ten-page-essay on every one of your characters, but definitely nail down as many important details as you can. For example, if I were one of your characters you would write down things like brown eyes, brown hair, wears glasses, bookworm, blogger, hates jellybeans unless they’re sour, right-handed, is secretly a trash can, etc.
Wow, look at you. So edgy with the self-depreciating humor *adds “talks to self” to list*
Be sure to add any backstory to their file, even if you don’t plan to implement it within the story. By developing a character’s past, you will automatically slip little details about who they are into your story.
Another cool trick is to include a picture or face-claim to each character’s file. That way you can always have a mental image of what they look like.
You know what? Just go ahead and write a ten-page essay…
2. Pay Attention to How They Speak
In one of my previous works, I had a character who never used contractions. Ever. He was very a very old, some-odd 300-year-old fairy who tended to speak using very strict English and little to no slang.
It’s very easy to slip into everyday language when you are writing, but if your character isn’t meant to speak in modern day terms then it’s going to seem very off to any potential readers.
Keep in mind the way that your characters are meant to speak while writing and try to keep it as true to itself as possible.
3. Write as The Character
Even if the character isn’t a POV character, it can still be useful to get inside of the character’s’ head. A good way of doing this is by writing a diary entry as a character. You’ll get a feel for the way that they think and act, as well as details that are important to them as a character, plus you’ll get some writing practice in while you’re at it!
4. Editing is Everything
Let’s be real here. You’re not going to get everything one hundred percent accurate on your first, second, maybe even third draft. You’ve got to edit your writing and clean everything up. This final stage is the best thing in the world for character consistency. One of your characters is using slang that she wouldn’t normally use? Edit it so that it fits. One of your characters name somehow managed to change over the course of the story? Edit that sucker.
Editing is a writer’s best friend, because it lets us get our stories out in their barest and most genuine forms without worrying about our mistakes. To quote Stephen King:
“To write is human, to edit is divine.”
And that’s all for tonight, folks! Remember to drop your Q&A questions down below. I’ll see you all tomorrow. x, Hailey