Watling Street Writers

Friday, September 2

My Main Character needs...some character

Revising my first novel first draft has highlighted something fairly major. My protagonist is a little two dimensional and is in dire need of an injection of...well...character.

By that I mean I need to give him more depth, more back story. I need to know everything about him; from his motivation and goals to how many sugars he takes in his tea. Whether or not he likes marmite. The colour of his lucky underpants. Anything else that is relevant or even irrelevant.

This last idea is something I had not really considered up until now. Many writers feel it is important to know the every detail imaginable about a character. Even if 80% of these details don't feature explicitly in a story, they may help determine how a character responds in a given situation. They may even provide some plot ideas....

So I am going to spend a little time working through some character building using tips and tools to be found out there on the wonderful interweb.

If you want to join me and have a go at the in depth approach there are plenty of character checksheets out there for you to borrow ideas from. Here are two of the longer ones:  http://www.eclectics.com/articles/character.html and http://www.charlottedillon.com/CharacterChart.html both of which have rafts of questions to help you get to know your characters better. (Also both authors are happy for you to reuse their lists.)

A much shorter approach for getting a quick summary of your characters' key attributes can be found Connie Flynn's blog. Handy if you are short of time.

Not too sure about the whole idea? Natalie Whipple discusses the pros and cons on her blog post here. Reading it might help you decide when (or if) you want to have a go.

Finally for more in depth advice about your character you could hop onto the virtual couch of the Character Therapist. There are vast numbers of character creation examples there - you can even make an appointment!

On that note I'm off to discover the psyche of my characters. I may be some time.


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