Character Development

Anyone else out there spending the holidays thinking about their characters in a novel instead of real people? A hazard of being a writer, I’m afraid.

Introducing new characters, especially if you are writing a series can be a challenge.

Do you ask yourself:

  • What did the character do before the start of the novel?
  • How did they enter the protagonists life?
  • What motivates them?

I find even if I ask these questions it’s not enough for build a well-rounded character.

I use Scrivener to write, and I add a section for scenes that happen before the novel starts. When introducing a new character I ask myself, what was the character doing one month before the novel started, 6 months before and sometimes well back into their youth. Then I write a scene from this time frame. Something dramatic that happened in their lives that changed them usually works. This helps to fill out the character and know them before the story has even started.

You don’t have to do this before you begin writing, sometimes I do this after the first draft. Once I discovered a character fit the criteria of a sociopath. After writing the first draft, then writing scenes that happened prior to the opening,  the sociopath opened up some interesting story lines. These, of course, found their way into the second draft.

For me, it’s not enough to ask questions about my characters, I need to write about them to understand them.

What about you?

Thanks for reading . . .

 

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8 thoughts on “Character Development

  1. I’m so glad to see that I’m not the only one that does this! Sometimes I feel as if those little explorations are ‘wasted’ words because they don’t belong in the story proper. They help me though, and make the character feel more real on the page.

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    1. Kirsten, I think the time is never wasted.I agree that even if they don’t belong in the novel, the thoughts or words can help a writer get to know the character better. Now, as long as we don’t confuse them with real people lol.

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  2. I think about my characters a lot! Probably too much. I use personality sketches for my two romantically linked main characters and backstories on their lives – stuff the reader never sees. Recently, at the suggestion of a writer friend, I did first person comments from each character describing how they felt when they saw the object of their affections for the first time. Very revealing and helpful. Fun, too.

    BTW, Happy Holidays, Farley:)

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  3. I spend a lot of time thinking about my characters as well. I think as writers we’re able to see bits of ourselves in our characters so it’s hard not to think about them.

    When it comes to introducing characters what I’ve done in the past is “recycle” existing characters. For example in Love Bleeds Red, the main character falls for a vampire girl. His ex is at first just a character but through the story I changed my mind and decided to use her. So there’s many hints made towards the end that she is beyond human.

    In book two we discover she is a succubus and that she broke up with the main character in order to protect him. After seeing him fall for a vampire, she regrets hiding her true self from her because if he could accept a leech, why wouldn’t he accept a succubus?

    It’s an amazing twist. But yeah that’s just an example of what I’ve done.

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    1. I have to admit, I had to look up succubus and it made me laugh. A good twist and a good question. I like the idea of ‘recycling’ characters, especially minor ones that are hinted to in previous novels. Then their back story is already written. Thanks for the comment.

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      1. Haha, well it wasn’t meant to be funny but a win is a win. I add my own creativity to the creature in the story. I’m glad you liked the comment.

        I’m always looking for other writers to follow. Follow me, I always follow back. I publish in February. You might like the book 🙂

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