Tuesday, January 10, 2012

CRAFT: Character Development Pt II

WOW. Really great comments on yesterday's post. I had intended to go a certain direction with the followup posts on character development, but because of the comments, I've decided to do something different.

Let's focus on some of the great things you had to say.

Jennifer Shirk over at Me, My Muse, and I blog said:
"Well, for me I usually outline and start with each main character and ask, "What "lie" does he/she believe about her/himself or life in general?"

This is awesome! Why? Read it again. By acknowledging a LIE your character believes, you have instant conflict and tension.

Donald Maass over at Writer Unboxed wrote:
"... What is it that you—yes, you—least want to accept, refuse to feel, fear is true, find unbearable, feel angriest about, or avoid at any cost? What do you see around you that makes you sick? What in yourself makes you terrified?

Go further: What’s the truth that underlies all things? What principle guides human behavior? What’s the greatest insight you’ve even had about yourself? Or even just this: What do you know about anything that nobody else does?

Give any of the above to your protagonist and share the rest around with your other characters. ... " (to read the entire post, click link above for Writer Unboxed)

Building extreme conflicting emotions into your characters provides a wonderful road for them to travel throughout your manuscript.
Take a look at the characters in your WIP, and ask these three specific questions:
1. What lie does your character believe?
2. What will your character avoid at any cost?
3. What does your character know that no one else does?
What other tips do you have for developing a character?


  1. Those are great questions, and a good approach to developing character.

  2. When I'm developing a new character, I carry her (or him) around with me as I go through the day and visualize her reaction to whatever I'm doing. How does she handle this traffic jam, what would she order from this the menu, do routine tasks bore or sooth, and to all of these...why?

  3. Hah! I love this! I'm going to have to read your previous post now because the muse must be busy this week.

    I just read a post at YA Highway about naming characters and I got to thinking about character development. I'm toying with doing a weekly spot on character development myself (or maybe just a week-long one) and then I see this post! Awesome!

    I love these questions too. We should have a happy link-fest.

  4. Just checking out your blog, having found it via the Writer's Journey blogfest. Really like the above post - short, sweet, packs a punch with helpful questions to focus in on. I also appreciate that you pulled from comments for your post. I love it when a blog about writing fosters a conversation like that!

  5. Your post inspired me so much I did this: http://dverted.blogspot.com/2012/01/inspired-tuesdays-characters-birth.html

  6. Oh, thanks for the reference!
    All of those points are great to keep in mind depending on what kind of story you're telling. Very helpful!