Monday, February 18, 2013

Character Development Series: Putting It All Together

If you didn't catc the entire series, or you have questions about character development, then this is the post for you. At the bottom I'll be taking questions. And rest assured, if I can't answer them, I'll find someone who can!


We introduced the character development series last year with one of my posts for YAtopia. It offered some food for thought on "getting real", using your own experiences and observations of others as fuel for making characters realistic.

Question #1 asks you to consider what impression your character thinks they give to others on first meeting, or first appearance.

Question #2 asks you to identify what is the primary impression your character actually gives others on first meeting, or first appearance. (Important, because that must drive your character's first appearance on the page so the reader gains that impression). It includes a writing exercise to help you ensure you're achieving that.

Question #3 focuses on identifying your character's primary trait, and how that works in favor of (or against) their role in your story. This post also includes an organizational exercise to help you keep track of your character's roles, traits and how they can aid your plot.

Question #4 will help you add depth to your characters. It asks you to identify what feeling, trait or flaw your character works (consciously, or sub-consciously) to hide from others in their story.

Question #5 discusses "tagging" your characters - find descriptors, visual cues, or sensory experiences that identify that character for the reader, even if the character isn't speaking or being watched by someone else. There's an additional exercise at the bottom here, to help you keep track of the tags you settle on.

Question #6 asks how your characters see themselves as "lacking", and what do they do to overcompensate for it? This is a critical character definition, one that can both drive your plot, and offer real fodder for how your characters will act, especially when they're in conflict.

Then, finally, Question #7 asks what your character is aiming for -- in a given scene, in the story, in their life. Again, this question is critical for a writer's toolbox because the answer drives the character at all times - in backstory, in your book plot, and after the book is complete. If you're stuck because you can't figure out what direction your plot will take, or don't feel like your characters are coming "alive", this is the question you most need to address.

So, that's it!

Now's your chance (if you want it), to ask questions about developing characters, how that drives your plot, any of these questions or issues raised by them that you're unclear on, or anything else that's weighing on your mind. If you've got questions, ask them in the comments or email me. I'll answer brief questions in the comments, or write blogposts about the more complex ones.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Your Turn: Any questions?


  1. Thanks for putting the series together, Aimee :) I'm knee deep into the character development phase - trying to tie this up with the plot and themes so I have one coherent picture. It's harder than it looks - so I appreciate the info you've shared! Well done

    1. Glad to help, Ken. Thanks for dropping by. Let me know if there's anything that would help you further. Always looking for ideas for blog posts :)

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