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My writing journey has begun. The road will have some bumps and detours. I only hope that the first hill is not too high, and the journey is long.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Building Characters (Making them Three-Dimensional)

          As I mentioned, I have been working on a new “YA” story.  I’d like to share and expand on an earlier post about creating characters.  It is a process that I use each time I begin a new story.  I create histories/backstories for each of my characters.  I put this all in a character notebook for each of my stories, tabbing and setting up separate sections in the notebook for each character; saving the front page of each section for the sketch I do for each character.

          Usually, I start out by answering the following prompts for each of my characters:

1)   Name
2)   Height and weight
3)   Hair color and eye color
4)   Age
5)   Personality
6)   Habits/quirks
7)   Likes/dislikes
8)   interests
9)   Fears
10)  Hopes and dreams

Once I have this all jotted down, I sketch my character.  It helps me to visualize them more.  The sketch doesn’t have to be perfect just a tool that works for you.

These are the questions I ask myself once I have begun their creation:

1)   Who are their family members?
2)   Where do they live?
3)   What is their life like?
4)   Are they likeable?  Unlikeable?

          Sometimes, the sketch of your character will change as you make them more real.  Sketch in pencil, create as you go along.

          I usually try to write a couple of pages about each of my characters, creating them into three-dimensional individuals.

1)   Does he/she have choices and/or struggles? 
                    Without these your character is flat.   
                    They need to struggle, learn and grow.
2)    What makes them stand out?
     They should be complicated, emotional, flawed, likeable or not so        likeable.
     Get the reader connected.

          Create characters that readers want to stick with and can’t wait to get back to and still want more.  Characters are what draw a reader into their world.

          The goal is to draw the reader deep into the story, taking them out of reality, making reality fade and the story alive. 

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