Reconsidering your characters

I’ve finished the first two weeks of the on-line, free writing course, Start Writing Fiction. Although I do  writ all the time, and consider myself fairly skilled (without sounding boastful I hope) I decided I needed to have a refresher, and this course is proving just the thing.

We have been thinking about characters, developed from observation, and we wrote a character sketch… here’s the next task:

… reconsider your character sketch:

  • Is there an opportunity to add the thoughts of your character?
  • Can you situate your character in relation to a particular location?
  • Does what your character says in their dialogue tally with what they think, or is there a discrepancy?
  • Can you smuggle in some details about your character’s back story, their life prior to when we meet them?
  • Can you try to infer how your character acts in the world – for instance, are they overwhelmed or in some sense out of control

This is what I wrote as an introduction to my amended and edited sketch:

I’m struggling with this a little because I don’t feel as if I’ve properly engaged with my character; I think because writing about him was done as an exercise, rather like homework when I was at school, my character doesn’t seem ‘real’ to me – and if he’s not real to me he won’t be real to anyone who reads it! However, this is such a good exercise and a real challenge! So here goes!

He stood, waiting for a train, a big man, with a big head and a bland, unreadable face. He stood waiting, passive, as if weary, watching, always watching others waiting. My name is Jakov, my name is Jakov. He stepped back as another big, intimidating man walked past, a bare-armed man with a tattooed face and two tiny dogs. There was snapping and bad temper from the dogs, unexpected patience from their owner. Jakov’s pale gaze switched to the others who were waiting; he was passively watchful, but people walked warily round him, only the man with the tattooed face had passed near to him.

I’m not sure what will happen to Jakov, maybe he will only continue as long as the course lasts, but maybe his adventures will continue – where is he travelling to? And why?

Here’s a link to the course – we’re on the third out of eight weeks so it’s not too late to join!

… and here is a link to my books:


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