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Toolbox Tuesday: Creating Characters

August 4, 2015

This week for Toolbox Tuesday we are going to switch from prose to content, specifically characters. After all, characters are an integral part of any novel. I have stuck with some rather sloppy reads as far as prose and structure, especially from newbie authors, simply because the characters popped from the page and I CARED about what was happening to them.


I previously discussed how to use the four temperaments in creating characters here. While using the four temperaments oftentimes gives me a rough idea of the character(s), it it merely a beginning. I then have to get to know my character inside and out.


Tip #1: Spend a GREAT deal of time with your characters BEFORE writing.


So often, young and newbie authors wish to jump into the writing. Scenes are flashing through their head, and the compulsion to get them down on paper is


maddening. Feel free to write the scenes ONLY to make sure you do not lose them.


Then, go back to spending time with your characters.


I oftentimes spend a month or longer just working on my characters with a new book. (This time frame can vary depending on the size of the book and the number of characters.)  I create detailed files not only of physical characteristics, but also vital statistics (birthdate, place, parents, school history, etc., etc.). I take notes on first time experiences, relationships both positive and negative, faith issues, how the character feels about themselves and others, and on and on. A number of charts can be found on the internet to aid authors with compiling this information.


You can probably NEVER have too much information on your main characters, and MOST of what you do have will never make it into print in the book. The information will, however, find its way into your character’s actions and decisions.


Doing likewise with minor characters is important as well, although the information might not be as detailed.