Getting to Know Your Characters

I’ve never been a plotter by nature but admittedly, there are some things I wish I prepared a bit more at the start of my writing so that it would make the writing process easier later on. Characters are one of those things.

A while back, I got a on Amazon called Breaking into Fiction: 11 Steps to Building a Story That Sells by Dianna Love and Mary Buckham. I’ve only recently started the book but so far it has given me some good recommendations I’ve set out to try. Since I’m a punster, I will usually get to know my characters as I write my book. This works for me but one of the weaknesses I’ve noticed is that I have trouble keeping all the strings of my plots in line. So what do the characters have to do with that? Well, many of these strings are caused by my characters’ motivations. By not completely knowing my characters at the beginning, I don’t always know their motivations until the rewrite.

Now, I’m not planning to completely change the way I write because I’ve been there, done that before and it doesn’t work; however, I am now trying to incorporate these authors’ character template into my rewrite to make sure my plot is in line with the motivations of my characters. This is working very well and giving me some sort of ground to cover in the rewrite.

Now I won’t give the template away as I recommend checking this book out (it has a lot of other information as well), but to give you an idea of how it works, you will go through a list of questions to identify who your character really is and their motivation and where they are going. Similar questions for example would be: What does this character think about their present day world? What are this character’s strengths and weaknesses? What do others see as their strengths and weakness? Once you compile all your answers you truly do have a good idea of your character’s arc (where they are to where they are going and what they want).

Of course, this book is just one tool and it may not work for everyone. I personally have taken a Debra Dixon class which was similar and very helpful in setting up plot. At the end, we all learn differently and most do what works for each of us. Writing is a craft that must be constantly honed so that our books only get better and better. Good luck and happy writing this week!

This entry was posted in Characters, Toni Kelly, What Are You Reading?, Writing Topics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Getting to Know Your Characters

  1. Great post, Toni, sounds like a good book! It’s probably easier for me because I co-write with my husband under this pen name. Each time we start a book, we spend a LONG time getting to know our characters (who we only THINK we’ve invented lol) – once, we even created a sort of genealogy, to give a character’s motives some history and depth. Lots of that detail never actually gets onto the page, but it helps us keep them consistent. Or maybe it just helps us keep in touch with them, whatever other reality it is that they truly live in…

  2. Pingback: Story planning | Balancing character & plot |character or plot driven | MayITakeYourTrident

  3. Pingback: Tuesday Tip « Adventures in Writing

  4. Pingback: Five tips to make readers love your characters « Where do you get your ideas?

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