So I went to San Japan last weekend. It was SO FUN. Unlike Anime Matsuri (2013), it wasn’t cramped beyond belief. The elevator rides were the worst part; say goodbye to your personal bubble once you got into that moving box of doom.
Anyway, I really love art. That was a great transition right? Recently I decided to take the plunge and learn how to draw. Because of this, I went to Amelie Belcher’s How NOT to draw panel at the con. While there were some technical difficulties with her computer, it was a great panel. Especially because I realized something about character writing at the same time I was learning stuff about art. Win-win!
So Belcher does a lot of manga. She made a joke about how anime hair is impossible and not realistic. Then she met this Korean or Japanese pop band. They all had perfectly spiky, gorgeous hair (which is something I love about Asian hair in general). Her first response? I JUST WANT TO DRAW YOU RIGHT NOW.
Again, with voice actor Scott McNeil — who is a real character and was lots of fun — had a panel. He mentioned how he heard this one woman talk, and how her voice was so high-pitched. More than anything, he wanted to figure out how in the world she talked like that, and would gladly listen to her talk all day long. Because voice acting is his thing. He genuinely loves it.
I don’t know why it clicked for me at this con. Maybe because their examples were hilarious stories, or maybe it was just one of those perfect mixture of things life likes to throw out without any real explanation (YOU WILL TAKE THIS REALIZATION AND YOU WILL LIKE IT).
This made me realize something about myself. When I hear a rock song, I listen to the riffs and love them because I imagine what it’s like to PLAY them. (I ADORE electric guitar. It’s a great way to unwind and a favorite pastime of mine.) My first response to a really good rock song? I WANT TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY THAT. To a vocalist it might be I WANT TO LEARN THESE LYRICS. She couldn’t give a crap about the guitar. Ditto for a drummer. And that’s all within MUSIC.
Bottom line? When you create a character, keep their passions and preferences in mind.
Is your main character a chef that also moonlights at a tattoo parlor because, hey, it’s seriously awesome stuff? He would be picky about food, and probably know the difference between sage and basil. (Which I don’t, fun fact. I just read that off the seasoning bottles in the kitchen.) He’d also look at a cool design and make a mental note to try inking that out, or drawing it out or whatever it is tattoo artists do (I love you but I’m too lazy to Google).
In contrast, a hunter with a love for bluegrass might hate modern country music and play a banjo in his spare time. He’d also be OCD about cleaning his gun, or having a nice gun, or how many bucks he’d shot and have the stereotypical mounted heads all over his house. Or maybe he hates that kind of sport. Maybe he’s one of those live off the land people.
The writer must show how a character sees the world through their interactions with others, their thoughts, and reactions.
This might sound like a no shit, Elisa, moment, but it’s actually a skill writers pick up over time, one that I’m still learning. How Lilia’s chapters read are different compared to Damon’s. She doesn’t curse and is really straightforward. Damon is a little shit, and he’s gorgeous and isn’t afraid to use that natural charm on you. It comes out in how he talks and sees the world itself. I think that’s the big thing.