Character Development

Welcome to Writerly Wednesday where Character Development is the Topic of the Day..

Weekend Novelist cover art
Well Used Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray

Today I thought I’d share a little bit about character development.  The Character Sketch included in this post came from The Weekend Novelist.

I like to know my characters.  Even if a character has a walk on part I like to take time to dress them and give them some sort of agenda.

Never be afraid to develop any character.  Much of what you come up with will never reach your readers’ eyes.  This is called practice and practice is the best teacher.

You won’t be subjecting your walk on character to the whole Character Sketch Worksheet.  The habit of thinking about our bit players will make you a better writer.

If you have a strong lead protagonist it is important to give her a ‘helper’ and an antagonist of some sort.  The antagonist may not be a character at all.  It may be time itself, a virus or a natural disaster.  You helper character helps you as a writer because without the helper character your main character is going to spend a lot of time inside her own head.

These two characters, the helper and the bad guy, should be put through the paces of a full evaluation.  Don’t stop at just the list at the bottom of this post.

Open a folder and keep notes in it.  When you go to a store, keep your characters in mind.  If you see a car your antag might enjoy, use your cell to take a picture.  Upload the photo and put it in the file.

Go to a furniture store or a catalog and gather things to fill your character’s offices, bedrooms, living rooms.  Put the photos or at least the descriptions in the folder.

Does one of your characters have a skin condition?  Research it.  Make a file.  Is one of them especially paranoid?  Research the roots of the disorder.

Character Sketch

Height/Weight:

Sex:

Hair:

Dress:

Body:

Shoes:

Face:

Mouth:

Poses:

            hands/gestures

            feet/legs

            torso/head

Build:

Arms/Legs:

Imperfections:

Age:

Birth date:

Birthplace:

Home (imaginary):

            exterior/grounds/outbuildings/spas/etc.

            interior/furnishings/carpets/floors/lighting

Favorite Room:

View out the window:

Habits:

Vehicles:

Name:

Motive:  What does the character want?

Maybe the most important thing I can share with you is that our characters are forever changing, reacting, seeing things from new perspectives, becoming, growing or devolving.  When you confine a character in an unchanging role or mindset, that character becomes dull, predictable and cardboard.

The chart I used came from The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray, 1994, a Dell Trade Paperback

 Don’t touch anything sharp.

If I Should Die and Milk Carton People is available at Eternal Press use the coupon code 31Halloween2013 at checkout for a 50% discount.

 

By Sally

Sally Franklin Christie Blogger and Author of If I Should Die and Milk Carton People.

1 comment

  1. I love the idea of keeping a character folder. Another fun technique is to have an interview with your character with you being the reporter. Ask your character questions that reveals the good, the bad the ugly like you’re writing their autobiography b/c they’re famous! What is their hearts desire? What are they proud of? Wish they could accomplish? If they did it all over how would they change things? What are some of the best things that have happened to them? The worse? Who do they love, trust, respect? Who would they avoid at all costs?

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