Writing for an Existing Character

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Writing for an Existing Character
by penderruth

We've all been there. You fall head-over-heels in love with a TV show, a movie, or a book – so much that you're exploding with creativity and you NEED to write some fanfiction, ASAP, or else. You've got your plot. You've got your original character. You've got the title and an idea for a cover. But when you get down to the actual writing, things seem...off.

How are you supposed to write in the voice of a character that someone else created?

It seems impossible, sometimes, to mimic the voice, mannerisms, and personality of a character that an actor has brought to life. While they often serve as amazing inspiration, it can also be daunting to get a character that isn't your creation perfectly right.

But have no fear! There are plenty of ways to master the perfect interpretation of any fictional character to create the perfect, most feels-inducing fic in the history of fandom.

Here are a few tips!

Re-watch. And then re-watch again.

Obviously, you've seen your favorite shows dozens if not hundreds of times. But here's what will help you: rewatch at least an episode or two, paying attention ONLY to the character you're writing for. If I were writing an 11th Doctor fic, I would rewatch some episodes and focus only on Matt Smith. Watch how your character carries themselves – are they energetic or more reserved? Do they yell a lot, or get excited easily? How do they interact with other characters? Take notes, if you have to.

Utilize tropes and key phrases.

There's a reason that characters have catch phrases, habits, and ticks. It's what makes them unique and recognizable to the fans, and as a writer, you can absolutely use them. It'll help ground your readers in the character. Take, for example, Castiel's tendency to misunderstand references in Supernatural – utilizing this is not only a moment for humor, but also a true-to-character choice in a Supernatural fic.

Read your work out loud.

This is a tip that works for all writing, from academic essays to fanfic. Reading your work out loud (or even better, having someone read it to you!) will distance you from your work and give you the ability to view your work as others will. While you're reading, pay attention especially to dialogue – does it sound unrealistic? Forced? Not quite right for the character? If it sounds off to you, it will sound off to others. Read your work outloud until it sounds like you're reading the script for an episode or movie featuring your favorite characters. Eventually, you'll develop an ear for dialogue to rival any other!

Don't sweat the small stuff.

It's nearly impossible to write an absolutely perfect existing character. While these tips will definitely help, you don't need to necessarily worry yourself sick over how the character you're writing takes their coffee or talks to strangers on the street. Try your best, and have fun, and people – fans like you – will appreciate the effort, and put their own thoughts and perceptions of this character onto your interpretation.

So, no matter what, remember that fanfiction is about having fun and stretching your creative muscles. Relax, let yourself write, and characterizations will come naturally with practice. Happy writing, Wattpad!

Which is the character that was most difficult for you to write about?

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Which is the character that was most difficult for you to write about?

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