In all my life, I have not had the chance to be a centaur, a princess, or a squire to an infamous knight. I have had lots of of opportunities to study myself – sometimes learning more than I would like to know – but the human experience has its limits. This means that when I write from a point of view (POV), I have to make a conscious effort to get inside their skin and try to perceive what the world would be like through their eyes. This can sometimes be more difficult than I would like to admit.
Fortunately, I have lots and lots of interactions with a wide variety of different people in my life. I am also an enthusiastic reader, a scholar of history, and have a handful of friends I can call when I need writing advice. Each of these skillsets / tools have helped me write from different POVs. Though, it took me quite some time to master it. When I first started writing, as one early reader pointed out, all my characters seemed like the same person with a different name.
Though, there are things that bind all of us ‘living creatures’ together that can be found in all characters. While writing different POVs is important, or having a different take on an issue is necessary to build the conflict, we as humans have many abstract components that unite us. This can be found in our desire to have love, happiness, or the will for survival. These motivations can be a central key, a foundation, for building your character and understanding their POV.
Quickly, I thought it would be helpful to give a few tips when fleshing out your characters – pun intended – once the foundation is set:
- Change the VOICE. Characters should be identified by the way that they speak. Dialogue tags are great, but having characters use certain sentence structures, words, or dialects can really help give them personality. For instance, in Melkorka, the character Dorofej has the uncanny ability to reverse sentence structure in a yoda-like manner, with a persistent question of “…,yes?” But, be sure you do not over compensate with voice, because this could be distracting to the reader.
- KNOW Your Character. I find it helpful to build a small template background of the character that gives me a quick outline of their education, temperament, and motivations. Sometimes it can be helpful to do a little personality test on your character to give them some diversity. When creating your character, do your best to stay away from fantasy clichés.
- Do Your RESEARCH. I find the best way to do research on POV is to read, read, and then read some more. There is much to be learned about how other writers structure their characters and build on the POV so that it is not only believable but engaging. Stephen King once said that every great writer is also an avid reader. King is known to read in all genres outside of his own to assure that he does not accidently steal any great ideas. I would parrot this advice and tell writers to read almost as frequently as they write to master their craft.
Joshua Robertson was born in Kingman, Kansas on May 23, 1984. A graduate of Norwich High School, Robertson attended Wichita State University where he received his Masters in Social Work with minors in Psychology and Sociology. His bestselling novel, Melkorka, the first in The Kaelandur Series, was released in 2015. Known most for his Thrice Nine Legends Saga, Robertson enjoys and ever-expanding and extremely loyal following of readers. He counts R.A. Salvatore and J.R.R. Tolkien among his literary influences.