One of my favorite things about writing is creating characters. I love figuring people out. I want to know what makes them tick. I search hard to figure out their greatest hopes, dreams and fears. I want to know what they want most of all, and then put conflict in their lives that will keep them from that one thing. (Mean, I know.)
Of course, I can’t stay mean for the whole book. In the end my characters either reach their one goal, or they decide on a new, better goal. (One they wanted all along but didn’t realize.)
When I first started writing I didn’t understand this concept. When I thought “character” I thought of looks, personality, and clothes (yes, clothes) first. It was like playing Barbies. Or those new Dress Up Games that all the teens are doing now. (It’s a game I had to try. How do I look? And if you didn’t know, the little dress up girl is an avatar. See I’m a hip mom!)
I look pretty, don’t I? And that Oscar is a nice touch, BUT it’s far from the real me. And the same is true for your characters. To know them, really know them, you need to go deeper. Believe me, it will make all the difference to your readers.
If your working on a fictional character, here are some good questions to ask:
- What does my character want more than anything?
- What will keep her from her goal?
- What are her inner strengths?
- What are her inner weaknesses?
- Why does she want to reach her goal?
- What will she do to achieve it?
- How will her strengths help her achieve it?
- What is opposite of her goal? Would there EVER be a time she’d consider doing the opposite? When … Why … ?
- Who can help her achieve her goal?
- Who will stand in her way?
- What would cause my character to change her goal?
- If her goal changes, how is the new goal better/different than before?
These questions are a great place to start. I also recommend three other books that really helped me:
After all, your character is more than just a pretty face. Right? (Although I have to admit these avatars are pretty cute and fun to play with!)