Being one myself, I think it’s safe to say that humans are complex creatures. We each have facets, quirks, nuances, moods and evolving mindsets. So, when it comes to developing characters, shouldn’t they be just as complex? Shouldn’t starting a new book be like walking into a room of strangers, with the goal set to get to know them? And if so, where do you start?
Pro tip? Go for objectification.
I know the thought of objectifying your characters may not seem pleasant, but hear me out. How many times have you been in a new classroom as a child, recreational group, or workplace retreat where you’ve had to answer questions like “If you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why?” or “Use a Movie Title to describe your personality”?
The thought here is that we prefer to evaluate complex ideas through simplistic explanations. I can insult your intelligence by flat out telling you I’m witty, strong, and vibrant or I can tell you that if I were a cocktail, I’d be a Jameson sour. Further, I can tell you that a character I’m working on is light, alternative, and sweet, or just tell you she’s a wine spritzer.
It’s more fun for you to figure it out yourself, (but a few little guides and symbolism never hurt anybody). It should also be noted that you don’t necessarily have to do this in your writing, but even doing it while brainstorming can help an author better understand where they want their characters to go emotionally.
If nothing else, it’s good fun.
So, what’s your cocktail?