A frequent piece of advice writers get is to put ground under the feet of their characters. Yet, advice on how to do that is limited or confusing. Often taking the advice literally, writers attempt to make certain the reader knows where the character is physically. However, the phrase means more than what city or building they are in. It also means where this character is in relation to the objects in the room and other characters in the scene. It reveals who this person is.
Characters fit into a story, into a scene, like puzzle pieces. The right pieces make a complete picture. The wrong pieces can be confusing. To create a character that involves your reader in the story takes many unique pieces or layers. This article will touch on some of the different things you can do to put ground beneath your characters’ feet.
Making characters’ voices, or dialogue, as unique as the instruments in a symphony, helps the reader to identify with your characters. But the reader needs more. Every word in your story (or scene) comes from a specific point of view. Strengthen your story and put ground under your characters’ feet by choosing words that reflect what your character sees, senses, his values, judgments, and opinions.
George, a 36-year-old prematurely gray business manager, walked down the street.
That helps the reader see him, but it doesn’t put ground under George’s feet.
Keep it natural sounding. You don’t think: I, a 36-year-old, struggling writer with her deep brown hair tied in a messy bun, walked down the mud-streaked asphalt street, do you? Of course not.
I’m not saying don’t refer to your character by name. There are certain things you have to do, so your reader isn’t confused, especially at the beginning of a story. However, the larger percentage of your descriptions should be as your viewpoint character thinks of it. So instead of the staying outside of George, try to focus on the inner George:
George, a 36-year-old prematurely gray business manager, walked past his favorite coffee shop on his morning walk.
That’s an improvement, but you can do better.
I’m so glad you’re here. I blog for the Writers in the Storm (WITS) blog once a month. I share a portion of it here so that you who don’t follow WITS, can read it.
Don’t worry, I’ll be back to regularly posting content here very soon.
Thank you for reading and being willing to click to read the rest of the post.
For the rest of the article, please go to the Writers in the Storm blog.
Top image by Barbara from Pixabay