A grey cubeI have been working on character development for the 2016 NaNoWriMo Event.

Over the past few weeks I have been developing characters using college ruled paper, a fountain pen and paperclips.

I have my favorite reference books close at hand.  I will not open yWriter and begin my next novel until November 1st.

Character Development – NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep

Every time I start a new novel I learn more about character development.

I want to share one of my new lightbulb moments with you.  I will begin with an excerpt from The Old Testament book of Ezekiel from the King James Version.

“And every one had four faces:

the first face was the face of a cherub,

and the second face was the face of a man,

and the third the face of a lion

and the forth the face of an eagle.”

Character Development – NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep

A grey cube         Imagine your character as a cube.  The surfaces may have huge or subtle differences in color, form, brightness or darkness.  A character possesses human traits and emotions, all on a continuum.  These characteristics may be muted or amplified depending on era, setting and situation.

One of my characters has a work persona.  Her work face or cube surface at work is confident, calm, businesslike and easy to get along with.  Over time, we might discover she has a love for horses.  At work she keeps this part of her cube mostly turned away.

People on the ranch see another cube surface.  She is happy, free, in control and a little horse poop is all in a day’s ride.  The people at the ranch to do not see her work surface.  There is no need to turn that outward.  No one knows she is buttoned down and controlled by her company’s expectations.

Character Development – NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep

Your character’s backstory, nurturing, nature and life experience write on that cube that represents who she is.

Under normal circumstances your reader can observe the work-a-day/recreational surfaces but there is much more going on.

Change the normal situation into something unexpected and the cube will transform.  Repressed traits on another surface break through.  We see an evolving character.  She will adapt and comply or maybe she’ll come completely undone.

Her control issues may surface in an amplified way.  This may distort or cover this character’s cube surfaces.  She may present a yet to be seen surface.

The good worker who loves riding horses is still there but those traits have been dialed back or muted.

As her world begins to change, she begins to change.

A character developed as a kind, giving and loving person may turn and face you with a surface projecting a more human and flawed persona.  Put more pressure on her and she may stalk and prey on you with the skill and strength of a lion.  Present another situation and she might swoop down on your pages as an eagle swooping in for the kill.

Human personality exists on a continuum.  Some traits which are deeply hidden or controlled will surface in reaction to an abnormal situation or event.

When you are working your character remember all sides.  What events will mute or amplify her character traits.  Let her show more than one surface.  Show us the corners, the darkened cells holding repressed memories, the bright and shiny bits of pride and accomplishment.

            Let her be a cherub, a human, a lion and an eagle.

cherubim

 

 

Published by Sally

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

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