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How Do You Write Your Characters?

PencilsToday’s topic comes from QSFer Beth Brock: “How do you write your characters? Do you talk to them? Do they come through you? Or…?”

When I write, I usually start with a story idea. Then I sit down to write it, and the character starts to form in my mind, I usually layer in details and history as I go, and over time, I end up with a three-dimensional, unique character.

I know that some other writers work differently, planning out the minuscule details of a character before ever putting a pen to paper.

Some people write the characters themselves as if they were in the character’s head. I close my eyes and try to see and feel what my character is experiencing.

Others talk to their characters in their heads, and have quite a chatter up there.

So my questions to all of our writers today – how do you build your characters? And how do you interact with them in your head?

1 thought on “How Do You Write Your Characters?”

  1. I write together with my daughter Shannen and when we start a new book, we sit down together and tell each other a story. We come up with the romance arc and the action arc at the same time, along with the primary characters and the important bits of their personality at that time.

    Then we use a technique that we got from best selling author Cherry Adair to really get to know them. We pick a birthday for the character at random and use an astrology book to come up with a list of characteristics that the character has been born with. We already know what kind of person our character needs to be at the start of our story so together we figure out what sort of life experiences that person would have to have to bring them from astrological description to who we need them to be. A lot of those details may never even make it into the final book but it’s important that we know them.

    Not that either of us is a believer in astrology but this method makes sure that we really know that character. They feel like real people to me at that point, someone I know personally and intimately. Once I know them that well, its easy to put them in any given situation and know how they’ll react and what they’ll do. Once you have an intimate understanding of the characters and an idea where they’re going, the characters write the book for you and the rest is easy. I have a long commute to my job every day and I entertain myself by putting my characters in various situations and watching it play out. Some of those I actually use in the book.

    On our last completed book, Sweet Fire, this had an unexpected side effect. I became so attached to those characters that I had a terrible time saying goodbye to them when the book was finished. It felt disloyal somehow to write about anyone else. It look me a long time to get into the next book in the series because I only wanted to write about Aaron and Ramon. Yet another reason for Shannen to think her mom is supremely weird. (“You do know, Mom, that they’re not real, right?”)

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