Writing as a Character You're Not

Question: One of the characters in my story is quick - witted and has more of a dry sense of humour. I am neither quick - witted nor do I have humour. I have no idea on how to express this aspect of my character through his actions and dialogue. What should I do?

Answer: Do you know people who you would call quick-witted or dry-humoured? If so, you might try imagining what they might say if they were in your character's shoes. A second-rate option might be to study stand-up comics who have created a similar persona.

As with writing any character who is not you, you need to develop a mindset where you can put yourself into your character's shoes. There will always be things you have in common with the character (since most people have similar needs, desires, intelligence, and emotions). And there will always be things that are different, due to environment, genetics, and experiences. You may not feel you are naturally quick-witted, but even if it takes you an hour to come up with a line that your character has to invent in a second, so what? Who'll know?

As for dry humour, it may be matter of getting clear on your character's attitude. Why does he/she use that style of humour to communicate? Does it come from cynicism, resignation, frustration, a slightly superior attitude, vulnerability, a reluctance to be too much the centre of attention etc.?

Once you know what's going on in your character's head, it should start to flow.

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