6 Ways You Can Know Your Characters Better
6 Ways You Can Know Your Characters Better.
This is such good advice that I think it’s worth repeating. Print out a copy and pin by your computer or what ever writing device you use.
Not the town in California, but the exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in central
London, where there is an exhibition of clothes designed for some of the most famous characters in films.
Amongst the exhibits was the navy tailored suit, Meryl Streep wore when she played Mrs Thatcher and next to it the outrageous playsuit she wore in Mama Mia. One clearly spoke of power and control and the other of sex and outrageous behaviour; there is no way they could be interchanged.
Another exhibit explained how the clothing for Harrison Ford as Indianna Jones was designed and then aged to provide the lived in look of a 1940’s explorer. The designer had used as a blueprint, the early adventure films.
I began to think about the importance of clothing to establishing character. I do imagine them in various clothes until I find something I think is appropriate for their personalities and for different events in the story line. Obviously, a barrister will wear a wig and a gown over a dark suit, when she is in court, but what about when the character is not working.? Is she a jeans and T-short type or would she wear a skirt and blouse. What about a female detective? Would she wear trousers to work with a trench coat or something more feminine?
Do you imagine characters in different outfits and do you use the clothes to help define the character to the reader.
I had no difficulty naming my main protagonist. She has always been Cassandra Hardman. I like the abbreviated form, Cassie, which I know she, and her family and friends would use. The name comes from a princess in Greek mythology, who had the power of prophecy but was never believed. I believe that fits with the role of the advocate, predicting the future for a defendant, and the disbelief that could engender. For her surname I wanted something which would identify her as a Lancastrian and ‘Hardman’ is common in parts of the County.
My novel also has a second protagonist and I have found naming her more difficult. She is a female Detective Constable about six years younger than Cassie. She is very loosely based on someone I met, who was the daughter of a successful business man. She had decided to join the police force against her fathers wishes. She was a tall glamorous blonde, who loved motorbikes. I originally called my character, Carol Beaumont-Smith, but I didn’t feel happy with that. The hyphenated surname seemed to be a cliché for wealthy, rather upper-crust characters, and using a name beginning with the same initial as my main protagonist, I thought, might be confusing for a reader. I changed the name to Vivienne James, Viv for short, but didn’t like that either. I know two Viv’s, one a small dumpy girl and the other tall and elegant but not reallyas glamorous as my policewoman is. I have now decided on Alexis Seymour which feels right. Of course there is a bit of a twist is that as another name for Cassandra in Greek mythology is Alexandra of which Alexis is a variation. Anyway Alexis Seymour feels right and I think I will stick with that.
I did wonder if anyone had any interesting ways of christening their characters. Let me know if you have.