March 30th, 2009

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On Writing: Creating Character

originally posted at http://blog.cherylreneeherbsman.com

A couple of weeks back, I asked (on my other blog) what sorts of questions people had about writing. SpeedReader asked about creating characters -- how to create characters that seem real. So I thought I'd say a little about that today. There are probably a million techniques different writers use, but I'll share a few I like.

1. Specificity -- One of the most important aspects of character development is specificity. What I mean by that is don't let your character be generic - the regular kid - that's not interesting. You want every character to be unique. So ask yourself, what's different about this character? How does she think? How does she see the world? What does she wear? What does she like or dislike? Try to get as clear as you can about what they're like, which leads me to the next point:

2. Backstory -- What has happened in this person's life to make him/her who he/she is? What is her family like? Why is she in this situation now? What has her childhood been like? What are her secrets?

3. Character sketches -- Try sitting down with pen and paper or computer and keyboard and letting you character talk to you. This isn't a piece you'd necessarily include in the story as written, it's just a way for you to get to know your character. Ask the character a question, such as who are you? Or what do you want me to know about you? Or what do you not want people to know about you? Or why do you like so-and-so? Or whatever you're curious about. Let them answer. I always find there are pieces of these I can use in the story.

4. This leads into a whole other discussion, but when you're letting your character tell you about herself, the most important thing you can do is GET OUT OF THE WAY! It's hard to do this, to not try to censor or adjust or critique what's being written, but remember, this is only for you, no one else will see it. So try to step back and let your character have her say. You'll be surprised where it leads!

Good luck and let me know if this helps at all.

Happy Monday

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