Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Getting to Know Your Characters

Happy May Day everyone!

This morning I'm wondering how you get to know your characters? Do you use a character worksheet? Or do they just come to you, based on someone you know perhaps?

The pantzer that I am, I tend to go in with a general idea and then watch my characters grow. It's like getting to know a new friend. Occasionally, they even take me by surprise.

Not long ago, someone posed me these questions: What is your character's most treasured possession and why? What is something they would never ever say or do and why?

Now those will get you thinking. They're the kind of questions you chew on for a while.

One thing I love about writing Christian/inspirational, is the freedom to explore my characters faith. Everyone has a spiritual side, whether they're Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or Atheist. We all have beliefs. Writing for the Christian market gives me the privilege of getting to know my characters on a deeper level. I love that!

What techniques do you use to get to know your characters? Do you have some intriguing questions you ask yourself as you write? If so, what are they?


  1. Very good questions, Mindy... Hmmmmm...

    Last week, or so, I did a character chart for a new character I was looking to expand on. All I knew of him was he worked as youth minister at his church and was called to preach - to lead his own church. I need to do more research on this career path to be accurate.

    Anyway, my guy is heading to Seminary. The questions I was answering were detailed and general. Everything from eye color to five year goals. By the end of the 5 pages of questions I was frustrated because I didn't feel I knew him any better. It felt forced.

    I don't put a lot of thought into the character's idiosyncrisies (spelling?) at first. I picture them, their eye color, hair color, height and build are a base I put together and then I start writing the story. More about their character traits are revealed to me as I write the story

    (Can y'all tell I'm a pantzer like Mindy?)

    I try hard not to think of real people, although some traits of my family and friends may be integrated into my characters. But I don't like writing about people I know. It gets too personal on that level. I like getting personal on my own level with the characters in my mind and heart.

    Most of my story ideas have come out of something indirectly linked to things I've gone through in life, or some other inspiration I wouldn't have imagined would've brought on a story.

    That's the fun part of writing :)

  2. I tried charts and they drove me up the wall. I like to do a journal, written by my character, where they tell me about their childhood and teen years. They tell me things that made them who they are--painful memories, mistakes, happy memories, etc.

    Two main questions I love to ask my characters:

    What's your worst fear?
    What the worst thing that could happen to you?

    Then I do those things to them! :)


  3. So far, I have a very vivid imagination. But it's not enough. I've been using some worksheets that some of my pubbed friends offered on the loops. It helps to make my imagination concrete:-)

  4. This is where I'm lacking.....I don't really prepare that much ahead. I know I need to do better on this.
    Sometimes things come to me while I'm writing. I have to pray that they do, otherwise.......