Writing a book is by no means a simple task, but it can be made easier through a rather interesting method. Whether you write a book with several perspectives or only one, writing the story in the character of the protagonist can have a profound effect.
Let’s jump into it!
In another field of work this is known as ‘method acting’. When an actor lives and embodies a character's lifestyle in order to appear more believable. It is often a practice that raises controversy with some actors taking it to outstanding degrees and some acting dangerously.
That being said, it can lead to some truly inspirational performances. The same method can be applied to writing. You need not necessarily become your character, but write in the way they speak or think. Not only does it add a unique personality to your writing, but it adds depth to your character.
In addition to that, it forces you to write the story in a certain way to best suit the perspective of the main character/s. You write better twists and your character/s is more memorable. All these benefits in mind, it certainly pays to give writing this way a shot.
Writing from the first-person is an effective way to write in character, but it is often done differently. I am not going to say most writer’s write in first-person the wrong way. Yet, the writing the first-person is usually closer to a narrative through a character, whereas writing in character is rare.
Yet, there are some incredibly amusing and fascinating novels that are written in character. Let us create and example of writing in character.
Character type: Nervous, worrier.
“Are you alright, Roger?” he asked.
“I’m al-al...I’m alright,” I replied shakily.
I hoped he didn’t find my stuttering too annoying. He kept looking at me and it only made me breathe more erratically. Why did I concern him?
By writing this way the personality of the character comes through a lot clearer. A method that I personally prefer of basic narration when the character isn’t speaking. Perhaps this method appeals to you as well. That being said, this is only the beginning of this study.
Writing in-character fits a particular niche of novel perfectly; diary books. These are books that tell their story through a series of diary entries. As time progresses in the story, the plot develops and so do the entries. The character will either write differently or their personality will adjust as they develop throughout the story.
These diary entries work as a form of dialogue, as the character speaks through the diary. Thus, the words and structure they use is purely informal or formal depending only on the character type. For example, a diary entry of a young character writing a simple diary will most-likely be informal.
However, an entry from a military type or an incredibly formal character will be cold and show little emotion. Yet, I doubt that such entries would last long if the author wanted to add any depth to the character and not the plot itself. Nevertheless, this is a famous method of novel writing and has done well for many young-adult books.
Now, I have sung plenty of praises on writing in-character. The effect it has on the reader is delightful, yet there are some decided flaws that could paint a poor picture of your story.
For one, by writing as a specific character you write for a certain reader. Some readers will prefer a different character to be the focus, but that is the gamble all authors must make. Not every character is going to be a smash-hit with every reader. Thus, you have to do your best with the central characters.
Another flaw; through a character you can show personality, yet a single character doesn’t get the whole story. Thus, the way you narrate the book through a single character’s personality can have holes in it. You have to stay in-character, but not leave your reader confused. You find yourself in a balancing act to keep the story as clear as it should be and to keep the narration consistent.
That idea in itself might put off a lot of writers reading this, yet there is a solution in keeping in character and telling a story.
You have already placed yourself in your characters shoes. You see the story from their perspective, you understand their intricate traits. You might even think like the character does. Having done this, you should tell the story to someone through the character.
In this case, you’re telling it to the reader.
Telling your story to someone else is simple. You have your own set of words and you explain how it all fits as you have a great understanding of what will happen. Now, you need to approach the story from the perspective of the character and have them tell the story to the reader. You can still do this writing in the first person, but it would be easier to write in the past tense narration.
Your character might be a different person by the end of the story, thus the form of narration might be different from their speech. Yet, when the character refers to themselves as ‘I’ and also shows similar traits in the narration, you succeed in writing in-character.
I know this might sound like a complicated concept, yet it isn’t new. You have no doubt read several books with the same method of writing. I’m sure you can recall a few names, but have you yourself considered writing in such a manner?
Writing this way might help you understand your own characters and how they work in your story. With that, you create an interesting dialogue and narration for your reader to enjoy. On that note, I am going to leave you with an idea that can be developed into a project.
If you are a novelist and interested in writing this way, take your main character and write a chapter from their perspective. I believe the biggest challenge you might encounter will be changing tenses, but otherwise, you should do more than fine.
Thank you for finishing this article. I had a lot of fun writing it and I hope you truly enjoyed it. There are many things you will learn from the writing experience and the 150 above are only a few.
As a big thank you I would like to offer you something for FREE!
A writing course on how to improve your main character!
Click here to check it out your course.
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Thank you very much for reading!
Matthew Dewey, Writer
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