Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WQ-09. Creating Characters.

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30 Days Of Writing Questions

09. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.

I haven't created so many characters yet, so it's hard to say if there's any method in doing what I do. But as far as I can define, here are my steps:
  • The story. I've heard from some other authors, where the character(s) came first into their mind and then they developed a plot around him/her/them. Until now I haven't experienced that.
A storyline or plot idea was always the initial sparkle, that got my writing started. At the very beginning I have no idea about my main character, so I start with very little information.
  • The name. When you freshly met someone, you introduce yourself. It's easier to get in touch with the new person, when you know the name, isn't it?
  • The basics. Something like age, sex, nationality.
  • The look. The visual person I am I need an image, but the look can change during the writing process, when I feel that the new styling suits better to the character.
Parallel to the story, that enfolds in front of my eyes, the characters reveal themselves, like Cathryn O'Connell, my current heroine.
  • The background. When her father and her godfather made their first appearance, I added a part of Cathryn's family tree. Names, ages and occupations of her parents, how they met and how their past (could) influence her (future) behavior. The same with her godfather.
  • The qualities. I already know more of her strengths, her flaws and her fears than the reader does. In one case I've already mentioned one fear on the edge. I know, I need that information later on for an important key scene.
So, I don't have a finished character, she develops more and more with every new scene.

Like described in WQ-06: Writing Habits, I write my novels on the computer, but I use extra sheets of paper, where I capture the different information about my main character(s). It's a big mixture of tabular information, mind maps and scribbled notes on post-its. That's a my help avoiding goofs, e.g. Cathryn first was a blonde, when I wrote about the look of her parents, she had to became a brunette. Then I knew, what and that I had to change something.

I wonder ... doing FIRST all those techniques and questionnaires with the result of a fully developed character and THEN ask yourself: Here we have you, which are the adventures you're suitable for? ... is that really logical and/or possible?

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