How reading blogs can help to develop your characters

Lately I have taken to ever so slightly stalking other people’s blogs. I’m not going after the ones with opinions similar to mine, but ones that against my point of view, from the gentle to the overly aggressive. It has been a learning curve. Blessed with the gift of anonymity, people find the courage to present their views as eloquently or as venomously as they see fit.

As a writer I think this is great. I have access to a resource that can improve my writing dramatically, and not just due to all the available writing tips. Sometimes we just a need a little inspiration to make fantastic characters.

I have spoken before about how blogs are a personal style of writing, that many people find they can get their true voice out without repercussions following them into the real world. This voice, spoken so honestly, opens us up to a world we don’t know exists and could not understand unless experienced ourselves.

People tend to hold back their opinions if they are likely to be judged for it in public. Not so on blogs. The nature of the internet brings out the best and the worst in all of us and that’s exactly what writers need to create three-dimensional characters. Without the censor that blocks most people in their day-to-day life, their voice and true personality shines through. There is no fake smiles or nods of agreement. People will say how they feel and defend it however they like, whether through presenting researched points or through wilful ignorance.

So, how exactly does this help the author? You can’t tell me having access to a person’s opinions and thoughts, no barrier in place, isn’t the best way to create a character. You need someone who is violently racist in your novel, a person that is so unlike you that you can’t understand their thought processes (a fairly radical example). I’m sure you’ll find someone in the blogosphere who emulates that character. You have access to motivation, personal responses to commenters and best of all, how they speak (or write, I suppose).

Once this blogger, or bloggers are found, you can absorb their unfiltered point of view and start to understand how this type of person would tick, how they would talk, and what they think. Very helpful if you need the inner monologue of your character for your story. You can create a character that is realistic, because they are based on a real person.

I would like to thank the bloggers out there who see things differently to me. You’re helping me to write better and opening my mind up to the world around me. Cheers!

When in doubt, turn on the music

Music affects all of us. Whether you’re young or old, music plays with your emotions, tugging them this way and that to dance to the beat. Advertisers use this to their advantage, playing familiar tunes through the speakers at supermarkets to influence shoppers to stay longer. Current dance hits draw in the partying crowds at nightclubs and the lone trumpet or bagpipe at a war memorial perfectly encapsulates the sensations a person will feel at seeing the sacrifices of their fellow man. Everyone pictures a shark when the Jaws theme song plays and the sight of a man wearing a hat, holding a whip is remembered at the first few notes of Indiana Jones.

What then, of books? How does the author get across what they want the reader to feel without the easy manipulation of music?

Why, by listening to music while they write. I recently compiled a Writing playlist that features songs that make me feel upset, happy or excited, amongst other emotions. I found that it was much easier to convey the emotions I wanted in a scene when I felt the same way whilst writing it. In the scene where a character dies, I played ‘The North Remembers’ by Ramin Djawadi as composed for Game of Thrones. If I had been listening to ‘Baby Hit Me One More Time’, I don’t think that scene would come out as well. When I needed to feel excited I played ‘I Love It’ by Icona Pop (feat. Charli XCX). The dialogue in that scene came out snappy as a result. It helped me to enter the character when I was feeling what she was feeling.

We might not be able to play music in the background as our reader makes their way through our book, but we can make sure that the emotions are still there, printed in ink what the author felt at the time. And that’s kinda cool.