Mini-Conflicts Help Characters Stand Out
For my WIP, I’m spending the week fleshing out characters.
At this stage in character development, I’m mostly concerned with creating an interesting mix. For this story, there’s a crowd of characters which could get confusing for the reader unless each character is, well, a character! Unique. Compelling.
They must be different in at least these ways:
Description. I need a wide variety from fat to anorexic, tall to short, white to black, and young to old. Beyond that, there are so many variations! Hair can be wild or tame, big or missing.
Eyebrows fascinate me: drawn on or so hairy that they grow together in the middle.
Teeth: laser white, yellow, rotten, dentures, cracked, gaps.
Speech: With a background in speech pathology, I pay attention to this one for sure. I try not to put stuttering in too much (which means I never allow myself to do that for fear of doing it too much). Accents are a way to distinguish someone. Dialects are fascinating to study, for example the difference between Bostonians and New Orleans residents.
Movement: Those teens who sag&bag, walk with one hand on their waist band, hitching up the shorts/pants every other step. (Watch Pants on the Ground – the man who inspired a surge in the belt market.) Something like that, tied to the unique clothing style is what I’m looking for.
Of course, there are other ways, but you get the idea. What I’m especially looking for is the interaction between characters and their descriptions. For example, if there’s a sag&bag teen, there needs to be another character who despises that type of dress; and of course, those two characters need to come into direct conflict.
I’m matching up the characters for mini-conflicts like this. They won’t be the main plot, but will add comic relief, extra bits of tension, and variety to the novel. Doing this at this early stage will build in more potential, more material to work with as I start the first draft.
How do you make your characters stand out?
PR Notes Question of the Week
If you didn’t see Sunday’s post, I’ve asked a question about book promotion: If you had $1000 to spend on book promotion, how would you spend it? I’d love to hear a wide variety of responses this week. Please comment here.