Jul 26, 2011

Art of Communication – Character’s

By Leesa Ostrander

As I have mentioned before I love the art of human communication. Our methods are complicated yet so simple. There are norms that are expected and when these norms are broken the communication is less effective.

 One of the topics in the course I teach is about noticing communication behaviors in groups and interpersonal conversations. By watching people and how they interact we can have a glimpse into personalities and characteristics.

Watching how people interact, from happy conversations to conflict and resolution the aspects of a character can make or break the story. They can be realistic and make the reader want to read on and love them as much as I do.

I read a book recently where I loved the characters! They were well developed and I wanted the book to continue on. However, the book was riddled with editing errors and cliché after cliché. This was distractive to the characters and storyline.

Communication is the full gamut. It is the spoken words, the nonverbal messages, the scenery, the context, the conversation and the story in whole.

Making the character realistic is not an easy task. The character can formulate in many ways. I watch people and pay attention to their behaviors. I find the behaviors that fit in the situation I need. Then I write it down and use a puzzle matrix to create “The Character”.

This method works for me, yet I have about 100 characters in my head.

So I ask: What do you do to give your characters their personality? How do you find the norms of the storyline?


  1. Writers hear voices in their heads but that doesn't make them schizoid! Characters have to be likable enough to keep the readers reading.Characters have to be effective foils for the other characters in the novel. Characters have to have enough depth to tell a story worth writing about. When I create characters, I often find myself dealing with people who are unlike anyone else I know, who do things I've never done, who have interests unlike my own. Brainstorming the characters I'm creating gets my brain in the "zone" as I describe their personalities, likes, dislikes, profession, habits, etc. My characters have to have a story so interesting that writing the novel is like taking dictation as they tell me what happened. I pattern them physically after people I know so I can describe them, but their personalities are always unlike anyone I know. Character IS plot, and so what happens to the characters because of who they are is what drives the story line. Put somebody in a situation where he's out of his element and you have plot plus conflict. That's the essence of story.

  2. What bothers me is I seem to relate to my bad characters like for example the emperor in Star Wars. I mean the really evil guys. What does that mean ha.

  3. Good points Pam!

    And Terri :-D my characters tend to die terribly often... it that bad that it is mostly by the evil emperor?


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