I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite aspects of writing is developing characters. Making them come alive, getting to know them, finding their depth, their motives, and well, making them so real they sometimes take the plot away… (ok, the control freak writer in me doesn’t always think this so cool…. but I digress…)
I thought I’d share some practices I use to develop characters. Here are three timed exercises you can try too:
1. List out what is in the character’s closet. Take 10 minutes.
(i.e. Is it sparse? Neat? Messy? Colour coordinated? Are the hangers all the same? Are there any hangers, or is it a folded mess? Cheap clothes? Bargain basement hunter? Shoes? Baseball hats? Is there anything hidden in the closet…)
2. In list form, or in sentences, describe something from the character’s childhood (or adolescence/ early twenties, etc). Take 15 minutes.
(i.e. was her childhood unstable, lots of moving, broken home; what happened that altered the character’s life? Was is positive? negative? Did they have a favorite grandparent? Did the grandparent die? Did they have a sibling who died and the character blames himself and has never forgiven himself…)
3. In list form, describe the character’s appearance. Take 10 minutes.
(i.e. does she wear glasses; is her hair long/ short/ curly/ frizzy; does she walk a certain way? Is she tall/ short/ average; does she have a distinguishing mark on her face; what are her distinct mannerisms – does she talk with her hands, does she stand with her hands on her hips, does she keep her head down; Is her skin a certain texture – smooth; hard calloused hands…)
How about you?
Hey, we’re living in this social media age, so I invite you to comment, share, and contribute your character development tips too!