Writing a novel is hard.
There's just no way around that. You're building an entire world that, hopefully, someone doesn't mind getting lost in. If you're really lucky (and work hard) people might love to get lost in your novel. That, right there, is my dream.
A huge, HUGE part to writing your novel is nailing down your characters. Without a doubt, this is by far my favorite part of the writing process. I have little dates with my characters, listen to their problems, and sandman their dreams. "Umm, Vivien, that's really creepy."
I know, it's so much fun!
What is an awesome character?
Easy, one that we like. Ha! Your character(s) need to have a problem, a fear or flaw that impedes their progress with that problem, and then either triumph or fail at solving that problem. Generally, you don't want your characters to be jerks. You want them to be likable in some way, but more importantly, you want them to be relatable. Say you have a character who gets a million tattoos over every inch of their body. What if you, as a reader, don't believe in marking your body? What if you think that person is an idiot for doing that? You can't find any way to feel sympathy for this character, or relate to them. But then what if I tell you that this character tattoos over scars they obtained through a horrible accident? This character empowers themselves by tattooing their body. Would you feel a little more sympathy then?
Let's get real!
If you haven't talked to your characters, you need to jump on that crazy train asap. If you want other people to imagine your characters as real people, you need to think of them as real people.
How do you go about doing that?
People watching is one very popular way to do that. Analyzing your friends or co-workers is another. Now, I'm not saying you should model your characters after these people, but you should figure out what makes them real. Everyone, and I repeat, ever-eee-won has faults. Analyzing those around you is a great way to hammer this into your brain. Take me, for instance. I'm a Type A kind of gal...most of the time. Laundry? I never fold it. My huge flaw has always, and probably will always be cleaning. I've never been a cleaner. Never.
How does pin pointing my obvious short comings help my writing? I'm a real-life, breathing human being! I know, I can see the shock and horror on your faces now. As a human being, I have flaws. Therefore, if you want your human characters to seem real, they also need to have flaws. "Oh, but Vivien, I'm writing about an alien race and they don't have flaws." I just said every human being has a flaw. What better way to gain sympathy from your readers than writing about someone like them? Even if you're writing about a perfect alien race, you need to give that main character some flaws. Like yesterday.
But how much is too much?
You can never have too much quality character time! Just kidding...but not really. Here are some ways that you can have some real bonding time with your characters:
Pinterest boards. I'm in the process of creating a Pinterest board for each of my characters. You can see what I currently have so far here. Although I'm new to this one, it's been my favorite so far. If I ever have free time, I jump on Pinterest and get to know my babies a little more. Cora, my main character's best friend, is a bad-ass of a girl. She colors her hair, listens to music loud and wears some outrageous clothes. I search for things like "dyed hair" or "blue hair" to pin pictures that match her style. I do this for her clothes, her room style, her shoes, favorite foods (she's a vegan). This one thing has helped me tremendously with picturing who my characters are.
Playlists. My boyfriend laughs because a song will come on the radio and I'll say, "This is Cora's song!" Yes, it's weird that I talk about someone like they're real, when they only exist in my head. But we're writers. We're allowed to do that without getting sent away for "help." I downloaded the free version of Spotify and pick genres I think my characters will like. I listen to their radio option a lot as I can find more variety this way. If I find a song that I like, I star it and sort it later to the playlist I want it in. If I get stuck writing, I'll listen to a relevant character's playlist for a minute and get into their head!
Character sketches. This one isn't my favorite, but it's