Monday, 4 April 2016

Character study

I've just been listening to an interview with Irvine Welsh on Radcliffe and Maconie on 6 Music. He had a lot of interesting things to say, but I was particularly struck by a technique he uses for developing a new character. He imagines the sort of music that person would listen to and then immerses himself in it until the character emerges. Isn't that a good idea?

My son (the one with the Creative Writing degree, not the drummer) says he draws a picture of the elements he knows - landscape, clothes, scenery, weapon, whatever - and the unknowns gradually become the knowns. Other writers I know start by think about the sort of shoes a person would wear or what their bedroom would look like. As I consider this now, I realise I always have the accent in my head.

If you're a writer, what's your top tip for bring a fantasy cast to life?


  1. That's very interesting and maybe where I'm going wrong because I always start with the idea for a story and the characters grow from that. Interesting though.

  2. I'm not sure there's a right or a wrong way, Maggie. It's always interesting to learn how other writers' minds work.

  3. Although I usually start with characters, I'm not aware of using any special techniques other than seeing how they interact with each other and the setting. But I do listen to music while I work and often find it inspirational so perhaps it's a subliminal influence!

  4. It sounds to me, Rosemary, as though you just follow where your muse leads. ;-)

  5. In short stories the characters and plot just sort of emerge together. I don't analyse how it happens, I'm just grateful that it does!
    With my (unfinished) novel, I knew I needed to get to know the main characters at a deeper level so I made a questionnaire and asked them things like 'who was your best friend at school?'and 'what's your greatest regret?' Although I was asking and answering the questions, some of the answers really surprised me! Most of the information isn't used in the novel but it certainly brought the characters to life - for me, anyway!

    1. That's a great technique, Linda. We all need that background info even if it never sees the light of day.