Character Building

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If you want to write well then you need to know/understand your characters, there is no better way to ensure this than to write from within yourself, using your own experiences. This article perfectly explains why characters written in this manner will be more believable and sit in more depth than ones that aren’t. I’m having so much fun free writing about characters and experimenting with the trials and tribulations I think they have been through. This really highlights that for me

The gap between what the characters wants and their needs are where the most interesting aspects of your characters will reveal themselves. And both want and need are created in really knowing your characters as if they were you.

How you gonna do that if your characters aren’t in your likeness or the likeness of those you have met/know even just a little bit? That and limitless imagination is in my mind the best combination for a genuine character :D

Read the whole article HERE at writersworkshop.co.uk and feel free to share your own experiences with character building below!

Emmy

Emmy squinted through her thick outlined eyes across the courtyard. As she sat on the wooden bench, legs swinging, she reached for her packed lunch. She bit into the roast beef, tomato and pickled cucumber sandwich that although she detested, her mother continued to make for her.

The courtyard stood in the center of the city. Originally the outside structure of a Catholic Church, a wishing well stood on a green between four crumbling columns. Evergreen had grown plush up and along each of them, moss sticking to the time-worn concrete. Without a ceiling, all day the sun shone in a sphere flooding each corner in light. Wooden sticks had been hand woven into a braided trellis and attached to an outer wall to steady the plants growing along the top. The holes left by broken window were replaced religious mosaics of multicolored glass, an attempt of the local council to preserve the Church’s history and all the stories that it told, if only silently and if only to a few.

Emmy ate her lunch here every day on the hours break from school. Most in her class ventured out to cafes around the city, only to eat a little and gossip a lot, perhaps because discussing the ins and outs of everybody else lives fed her peers more. She would seek the yard’s sanctuary amidst the hustle and bustle of the city,  where she was guaranteed a spot in the sunshine and a good hour of people watching. Her indifference failed to concern Emmy. She liked to think that she was different for a reason, and this she amplified in many ways. When she turned fourteen, she dyed the jet black hair that tumbled into curls all the way down to her lower back into a beaming blonde. Two weeks later, much to her mother’s dismay, she pierced a hole through her nasal septum and filled with a silver loop. She accentuated her voluptuous form with hip hugging jeans and tiny tank tops and bound golden chains around her tiny waist.

To the left of the largest window a man was sweeping away the Tuesday morning leaf fall. He was dressed in a brown cotton suit threaded with messy strands of blue, and a flat cap balanced on his crown. His sun-aged skin looked almost dirty and when he smiled, his rather large nose appeared almost hook-like. She had spotted him here every day for the past week, humming and sweeping, never uttering a word just nodding to passersby. Emmy took out her foolscap page notebook from her studded black satchel and started to draw. She tried to capture the way he swept, a thought behind every brush. She thought him either someone who had advocated every chance of happiness, or someone that happiness had never found.

© elenaxtina.com, 2015 in Skies over A Shanty Town

A Red Birthday Balloon

In the slums, turning another year older was more a sigh of relief than a celebratory event. Once a year at the break of dawn, in a state nor of sleep or wake, Abia would imagine that a perfect day lay ahead of her. She would run errands in the morning, stop by Roja to lay in the sun for a while. Perhaps if the City were safer, She and Tariq would climb up and over it’s walls in search of an adventure. Simple birthday treats.

Once she had seen an advertisement for written cards in Homes and Lifestyle, one of Mr Avedias magazines. A family of four sat around a big oak table, Mother, Father, Sister, Brother. A cake with a candle for each year of age was arranged in front of the little boy, and a Red Balloon was tied to the back of his chair. The image was a cheerful one, full of smiles and laughter. Golden and blue boxes littered the surrounding room with bows as big as fists, dazzling in the suns reflection filtered in from the bay window. It came as a surprise to Abia herself that she never wondered what treasures they held inside. She wished she could reach into the picture and grab the balloon, tie it’s rosy string around her wrist and carry it everywhere. Or perhaps hang it out of the bedroom shutters, so it could float in Merolas breeze.

© elenaxtina.com, 2015 in Skies over A Shanty Town

Fortune

You could tell a lot from the skies, far beyond the time of day, or of night. The world would always take pleasure in telling you all the things you were not. With it’s stance above majestic and humble attentive onlookers were cloaked in velvety dreams and purpose, the sky could remind you who you were.

Abia wondered why the people around her tried to predict the future. She never saw that any good could come from knowing that no good was ever coming. Merolas was like an impressionable adolescent that sought answers for the inexplicable, swallowing all kinds of nonsense tales to satisfy it’s own wondering. A traveler from Eastern Asia had once told the locals that if they carried all the riches they owned to the top of Sugarloaf mountain, and blessed them in an ocean stream on the way down, anything they were spent on would be fruitful. If you bought bread it would go as far to feed your whole family, if you bought seeds they would blossom into trees that would flourish into a Forrest. Naturally superstitious there was not one local that ignored the travelers truth. A week later nobodies livelihood had much improved, and there was not the makings of a vineyard in sight. Such phases changed with the moon.

Merolas was home to two women, the sabio (wise). Their families had lived on the land for generations, growing and working, listening and whispering, and it was believed their bloodline had acquired knowledge throughout and beyond the world’s corners. If something bad happened, if someone needed advice, they would often ask the mystical women to offer guidance and council. After Tia Carleta miscarried her baby boy, Abia had seen them reading her tea leaves in a search for hope. Carleta’s face as white as east side orchid, they told her she would conceive again in the fall when the heavens would open and cry down on Merolas in full force. Skpetical of anybody who told her they knew what was coming before it happened, Abia doubted such logic and reserved herself to trusting her own instincts. As long as she could look above, as long as she could settle in her own thoughts she would know exactly where she was in that instant, and that knowledge to her was more valuable.

© elenaxtina.com, 2015 in Skies over A Shanty Town

XIX. Legacies

The day she saw him again the skies above the city were overcast. In so many years so much had changed, and yet at the same time, threads of her old life remained embedded inside her, laying dormant.

Trivial things reminded Abia of Merolas, the memories like jewels as jewels are passed on like memories. Two years before, ‘The Incredible Hulk’ was advertised outside the local cinema. The green monster-man so tall on the poster canvas she believed it must have been scaled to his actual size. It took one glance to recall another lifetime, her mind reminiscent in colour and laughter. Such is the thing about memories, you can never control the remembering. You could be home to a thousand at one time yet surrender as many in an instant. Sometimes the ones you remember are the ones you would most like to forget, and vice versa.

Her mind swum into a sea of green and a childlike sense of adventure washed over her. Like rapid waves rushing through her veins it was a memory she felt through her entire body. The first time she had seen the green monster-man was on one of Mr Avedias comic books, the only one he was never prepared to sell. When Tariq would barter with him for tobacco, she would steal a peak and build a story. Not being able to read, she had created elaborate escapes and voyages that evolved with each turning page. Now the green monster-man was a film, and she could walk right into the backstreet cinema and watch the story unfold in moving pictures before her eyes.

On occasional evenings, the sun lulled in the sky, growing sleepy before it set. Too light to sink and too heavy to sit for much longer on the horizon, it chalked a hue of gentle indigo over the entire city. A sunset that formed only one place in the world. A sunset of Merolas, of home.

 

He hadn’t aged how she’d imagined. His hair with streaks of feathery silver and crinkles growing toward the corners of his eyes. In a shorter blink she would not have recognized him, but a deep tug pulled her gaze, palpitations in her heart warned her to look again.

‘Who is that mama?’. Jorge pulled at his mother’s skirt.
Emmy turned back, her big blue eyes, two azure stones gazing up at her.

‘That is your abuelo (Grandfather).’ she uttered in a hopeful tone and the makings of a smile upon her face, almost despite herself.

© elenaxtina.com, 2015 in Skies over A Shanty Town