March 24, 2009


Filed under: 1st person,challenges,characterization,characters,description,story,writing — writebrainit @ 12:28 pm

I have been thinking a lot lately of how I develop characters and where they come from. Do they take on their own personality and is a part of the personalityme? The characters who tend to meet a lot to me, I think are a part of me. However, that can be scary as well. One of my most recent charmers is a true sociopath and he is also one of my favorites. Is he a part of me, oddly, I think so.

I think I actually put a part of me in all of my main characters – at least it appears to me to be that way when I am writing in the first person. Now working the the psychology field has allowed me to meet the occasional sociopath. The males have actually been one some of my favorite clients, but I also make sure to always remain on their good side.

Next I was trying to figure out – how do I develop the characters. I know there are a lot of different practices out there and I think most of them encourage writes to break it down, describe them, identify their history, etc. I am not sure that I work that way. I tend to tell their story. Sometimes I feel the need to describe them sometimes I don’t. When I write in first person, it doesn’t seem to be as necessary – unless their physical description and history is an imperative portion of the story, I leave it out. I enjoy leaving some of that to the imagination of the reader.

As a reader, I picture what I am reading. If I am reading about the little girl who lives down the lane, I encourage you to picture her, right now. I immediately picture a little girl about 7, tiny with blond hair. As I read the story any of the images have to change as descriptions are added, like when the writer comments on her red headed bob. Suddenly the image changes and the all of a sudden we learn she is twelve. I totally have to change my image and she becomes a tomboy in blue overalls. Yet there was no identification of her being a tomboy or wearing overalls. These are the images that my mind creates. I do not believe any of this to be a bad thing. I love that my mind is so full of creativity that all it takes is a couple of words, a phrase and I am able to picture something.

There’s a difference between developing a character for a novel and a short story. Short stories allow you such a small amount of time tell the story, that character description isn’t as important as the character development that occurs in the story. I love giving my characters a voice – each distinctive in their own ways. In novels, however, I believe I do have to give more character description. I have never really taken the time to write a character history for any of my characters in the novels I am working on – and I am recently wondering if it my be an experiment to try.

How do you develop your characters?



  1. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

    Comment by RaiulBaztepo — March 29, 2009 @ 7:50 am | Reply

  2. Hello ! 😉
    I am Piter Kokoniz. Just want to tell, that I’v found your blog very interesting
    And want to ask you: is this blog your hobby?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Thank you:)
    Piter Kokoniz, from Latvia

    Comment by PiterKokoniz — April 7, 2009 @ 11:29 pm | Reply

  3. Blogging is a hobby, but it also serves a couple of purposes for me. 1. It is a place to save ideas and strategies I am learning or discovering. 2. A place to share other websites – which also allows me a place to go to when I forget a site. 3. It challenges me to write – even if I am just writing on the blog – I am writing – it keeps me accountable.

    Comment by writebrainit — April 16, 2009 @ 9:03 am | Reply

  4. Some of my characters are my family. Some are people I meet or imagine. Some are me, or a part of me. Uncle Ed in my first book, was absolutely my uncle from head to toe. Every sob, every whine, every manipulation, my uncle to a “T”. The protagonist in my second book came from my cousin. He was a single dad & he said he’d come home to a house full of little girls & his daughter would say, “Dad, you can’t come in.” He said he thought, no kidding, why would I want to come in with 5 or 6 little girls. That made me wonder, what’s a single dad’s worst nightmare? A semi truck load of feminine products. And there’s a section of my next book.

    I read an article in the paper the other day about a kid who went to the Ralston Public Schools and asked that they let him out of his senior year. He wanted to be Navy Seal & wanted to get started. He did his work & they let him. I thought man what a great character study. What if he isn’t allowed in the Seals? What will that do to him? I think it’d make a great story.

    Comment by Rhonda H. — May 8, 2009 @ 8:53 pm | Reply

    • I am always facinated when writers are able to take someone they know and put them down on paper – I still have never really tried that myself – maybe that should be my next test of myself.

      Comment by writebrainit — May 8, 2009 @ 9:11 pm | Reply

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