Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Using Your Writing Journal to Create Characters...

Hi everybody! Sorry I've been so quiet for so long but things have been hectic lately! With assignments, work and three trips to the dentist in a week I've had to neglect my poor little blog! However, I'm back! And I'm ready to get back into blogging about what I love most - writing.

This post is basically about how to create characters from your writing journal. I don't know about you, but I write a lot of crap in my journal. I'm pretty sure my last post was about a crap journal entry that I did because I use my journal to just empty the sludge from my brain.


I really enjoy going back over my journal and reading some of the random entries that I've put in there. One thing that I noticed most recently, particularly as I'm trying to create some characters for my new novel, is that each of my entries has it's own voice. I noticed the voice of the passage varied largely due to my changes in mood when I was writing. In some cases, it was hard to imagine that the same person had written the two passages. It's not just the anger, sadness, frustration or excitement that comes out making it seem different... it's the way I've written when in any of these moods.

I don't know if reviewing your journal would uncover a similar idea, but this is how I found reviewing my writing turned out. I narrowed it down to a few simple things that can influence the voice of a passage, thus creating a founding for a character to be created.

1. Pace
How fast a piece of writing moves when you read it is indicative of the person that wrote it. Or in this case, the character.There is a piece in my journal where I write about thunderstorms and making love in the rain. In this piece, the flow is slower and almost more sensual where I describe thunderstorms and the emotions and feelings that they bring out. Another piece I wrote, while anxious and excited, runs through extremely fast, flitting from one topic to another - which is a huge difference when compared to the thunderstorm piece. When reading these two entries, I imagined a sexy, seductive woman describing thunderstorms. I imagined her being mature, but not old (about 30). When reading the fast-paced piece, I imagined an excited young teenager, someone naive and scatterbrained.

2. Description
Different people describe things to differing levels of detail. For example, I have a friend that will explain her morning to you in excruciating detail. To the point that you almost have to ask her what the point of her story was, to get her to finish it. In some pieces of writing I've done this to try and capture the essence of a location or feeling that I didn't want to lose. Other people however, leave a lot to the imagination when describing something, these people are the ones you often find yourself asking questions to, to try and understand what they're trying to get across.

3. Language
This is wasn't such a jump out for me when reading my entries, as I obviously have my own language, dialect and way of speaking. It was only in a couple of entries, when I was writing as someone else, that the way someone speaks is a great factor in creating a character. If all my characters spoke exactly the same... it would be unnatural, not to mention boring.

With these three points in place, I was able to more selectively pick and choose what aspects of myself I wanted to see in my characters. This hounds back to the philosophy that everything we write is representative of our self, and I couldn't agree more with that sentiment. Each character we create will have something of ourselves in it in order to bring it alive - we can't give characters what we ourselves don't have.

I hope this helps in developing characters - have a read through your journal and see if you can see how different entries seem written by other people.

Best of luck to you all! :)


  1. Excellent points! Sometimes I start writing and while the content is okay I still get the sense it is just not right. When I come back to it later I notice it is not the what but the how. How I write passages, as you said, varies by the day/mood and sometimes the voice of that day is just not right for the story I am trying to tell. Getting to the voice you need can be a struggle sometimes :)

  2. I know exactly what you mean! Sometimes, as writers, we struggle so hard to find what we need when it's staring us in the face in our journal. We've already written it!

    Thanks for the kind comment :)

  3. Hi Julz,
    I just wanted to thank you for the Leibster Award. I loved the post on your brothers and sisters. I have 6 kids and it was fun to see pics of that many kids all grown up.http://www.thewomancondemned.com

    1. Thanks! It has been too long since we've all met up and now it's great for us to all get together at the same time! :D

      Congrats on having 6 kids of your own! I know it can't have been easy for my mum :D

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