HomeWritersLiterary AgentsEditorsPublishersResourcesDiscussion
Forum Login | Join the discussion
+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 21
  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    130

    Getting to know your characters

    I've seen/heard it said that, in order to tell a great story, one thing that is imperative is that the author know her/his characters intimately. How do you "get to know" your characters? Are they any tried and true method of character-acquaintance that have worked for other authors you know?



  2. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Colorado, Springs, CO
    Posts
    15
    One of the things I do, other than basic character bios, is write interviews with the characters. It works well for me, especially if I'm stuck on something, and it gives the character a chance to speak to me.

  3. #3
    Amy Lou
    Guest
    I make a list of ten things I'm most proud of, ten things I'm good at, ten things I'm ashamed of, ten things I like physically about myself, ten things I don't like, and ten things I wish I were better at. Then I pick and choose from that list to give my characters real qualities -it's a start. Of course I do the basic bio as well, birthdays, favorite color, talents. I like the interview idea Amy!

  4. #4
    Aver0n 2o11
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer Hord View Post
    Are they any tried and true method of character-acquaintance that have worked for other authors you know?
    Nope, & when I hear "tried & true", I get suspicious. Just do whatever works for you. I never know my character's appearances until after I've worked everything else out. I generally know their "essence", which evolves into their personalities, then I try to figure out what they might look like. My drafts are usually longer than their final copies because there are lots of extra scenes where I am "figuring out" my characters. These are a blast to write but may not be the most funnest to read so I sometimes end up deleting them from the final copy

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    3,866
    Quote Originally Posted by Averon 2011 View Post
    . My drafts are usually longer than their final copies because there are lots of extra scenes where I am "figuring out" my characters.
    Same here. It's not till the end of my first draft that I "know" my characters--and, even then, their personalities evolve quite a bit in subsequent drafts. Some authors I know do detailed character sketches before they even start writing, but I've never found that necessary. In fact, some people spend MONTHS working on the their character sketches, so...beware.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    461
    I have to say that I think I know my characters much better in this new book than in my previous one. I never sat down and formally wrote out a character sketch, but they all seem to have such forceful personalities that they dictate to me what they'll do and how they'll respond.

    Since this book has four POVs, I'm writing it out of order, working on first one character's story arc, then another character's story arc. Along the way, an interesting thing has happened. Hubby (who is my first reader) and I sit out on the patio every night and gossip about these people. We talk about what just happened in the most recent chapter and how X is going to feel about that. We explore what XX is planning in the next chapter. Will Y forgive him, or will Y quit talking to him for a while? They've become those embarrassing family members who live messy, dysfunctional lives. You love them because they're yours, but you'd never lend them money because you know they'd never pay you back!

    Jeanne

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    130
    Jeanne, I am considering telling my story in multiple voices, too. I had not considered doing one arc, then another, then another, and so on. I was just going to go one, then another, then another, back to the first. But that just seems a little maddening. I'll see if your way works, too.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    684
    Jeanne. What do you mean when you say you're writing in four POVs? Do you mean in in first person?

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    461
    One character narrates from 1st POV. But I have a close-in 3rd POV for three other characters; each with his or her own voice. To give you an idea:

    Caroline--All of her chapters are 1st POV. She is the primary narrator and frame for the novel.

    Frank--3rd close-in POV. This is similar to first in its intimacy, but it still allows me to pull the camera back a bit when I need some distance or overview for the reader.

    Irene--3rd close-in POV. Same as Frank's POV.

    Ray--3rd close-in POV. Same as the two above.

    With close-in 3rd POV, you remove the distance by using direct thought:

    He could hear the truck roaring up the hill. (more distant 3rd POV)

    (In the character's head): The truck roared up the hill. (close-in 3rd POV)

    Ray noticed she liked to hide her hands in her sleeves. (more distant 3rd POV)

    (Ray's direct thoughts): She liked to hide her hands in her sleeves. (close-in 3rd POV)

    It's tricky to make work but can be quite effective, especially if each 3rd POV character has a distinctive way of viewing the world. For example, one character may be more cynical while another is hopeful or impulsive. One of my 3rd POV characters, Irene, is bi-polar, so her perspective is always interesting. I love digging into her convoluted logic. Often her behavior makes no sense to anyone but her.

    Hope that clarifies the POV thing some...

    Jeanne

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    584
    I get to know the characters, and how they talk, by writing the story. Generally, I find myself rewriting more dialogue from the beginning of the story than from the end because by the time I've gotten to the end I know how they talk. And, of course, there are times when you have to rewrite a scene because you realize that the way you originally wrote it is out-of-character for somebody.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts