Characters and Dialogue
Characters are the people in your stories. You make them up and decide what happens to them. You create their dialogue - the things they say to each other.
You’ll find them everywhere. People on the street, sitting next to you on the bus, you work with them, live with them but how do you get them on the page?
http://www.behindthename.com - describes the meaning of first names. You can search by name or by meaning. A name can say a lot about a character. Choose one of your characters’ major character traits and look up a name based on the meaning.
If you struggle with bringing a character to life, try to imagine a famous actor or actress playing the part of your character.
Has anyone played (or plays) Role-Playing games such as Advanced Dungeons & Dragons? You’ll find that these sort of games offer all sorts of help and info on bringing characters to life. (After all, this is what these games are all about.) You can find loads of background info on the internet and even downloadable programs to help. I use a few of these programs to flesh out some my own writing - I have a random name generator, a city populator (input the size of the city’s population and it’ll tell you how many blacksmiths, temples etc. there are), and random character generators. Have a play round with some of these and see if they help.
When creating a character, I start small, with a simple emotion (Is the character happy, sad, jealous, etc.). Then I decide why the character feels the way he does (I’ve unconsciously chosen the sex by then). Then I think of a name. It’s true that a character’s name goes a long way in plot development. You just have to know how to choose an interesting name without sounding like an old detective novel (unless you want to sound like an old detective novel, that is). - Sakara Kenna.
On the subject of choosing character names: I like to pick an appropriately associated (and if possible lesser used) language, and loan an English translation book from the library. Think of the major attributes for your characters and look up translations of these attributes to formulate character names. - Nathan Procter.
Sometimes, when using a stereotype or some one you know as a character, you have to change their traits or personalities to make them more interesting.
Character names are a tricky thing to get right but some of the following suggestions may help:
- Surnames - Terry Pratchett uses the Phone Book to choose names from - apparently he flicks through at random and sticks his finger in the page. It seems to work for him…
- Forenames - Try a Baby Name book (one of those books which list loads of boys and girls names and have a little bit of information about what the name means.)
- If you are writing in the sci-fi / fantasy genre then players of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game have a few sites with name generators on. These are simple programs which are free to download.
Does anyone else find it easier to say the dialogue out loud before they write it? I find it helps it to be more realistic. - Mary Morris. You could also record your dialogue using a dictaphone and play it back to yourself to find out how it sounds.
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