The Blogging from A-Z Challenge continues today. Throughout April I’m posting about my life as a writer, including my inspirations, frustrations and celebrations.
For the letter D, I’m going to discuss how I develop my characters.
The first thing I do when developing characters is try to get to know them better through some automatic writing. I will typically grab a piece of paper and write freehand in my character’s voice. I don’t worry about spelling and grammar and I don’t filter myself. I just get out the words as quickly as I can. Sometimes, I will write interview questions and then answer them as a particular character.
Then I spend a long time just daydreaming about the character and imagining myself in their shoes. How do they feel? What do they want most in the world? What’s the worst thing that could happen to them? I use music and art to inspire me during this stage. I like to scroll through images on Pinterest looking for portraits that match the general look of my character and these usually generate a lot of ideas about their identity and backstory.
Developing the Details
The next part of my process is to decide all the particular details about a character, including their personality traits, physical description and preferences. For this, I complete a character chart, filling in as much detail as I can.
Before writing the first draft, there are often lots of gaps on the sheet which I fill in as I go whenever I discover a new detail about the character. I find it handy to have something to reference while I’m writing so I don’t accidentally describe a character with the wrong eye colour or something.
I’ve made my worksheet available for you to download for free from Google Docs at the link below. Feel free to alter it and use it as you wish!
Before you go…
Writers-how do you flesh out your characters? Do you use a character chart?
Readers-what kind of details make characters more realistic? Who is your favourite literary character?