Thursday, September 9, 2010

Writing Remarkable Hero's

Writing a fascinating character can be challenging.

I was telling you guys earlier this week about my weakness for my latest bad boy creation, Seth.  

Today I thought I would give you guys a little bit of a background on how I get the fleshing out completed.  

I have a worksheet that I use for each and every new work in progress.  The things I need to know about my guys and gals before I sit down to put their story to paper.

I always start with the character that is speaking to me the loudest.  In fact the WIP I am in right now has been put on hold because last week I suddenly started to hear a new voice.  And believe me when I tell you he was insistent that I stop what I was doing and get his personality down on paper.

So my worksheet is pretty basic.  It always starts out with Character Background.  Where did he grow up? Where was he born?  What is the name of his parents? How old were they when he was born?  If they are not alive, what was the story behind the death or deaths.

The next thing I spend time on is flaws.  What are the flaws this character has?  Come on, he has to have some flaws.  A perfect character is a boring character.  

Physical attributes of your character.  What does he look like.  Description here is completely up to you.  You may not want to give the reader to much and that is alright.  Is his ear pierced?  Or does he have a tattoo?  I need to know this before I start.

Working on Seth, I wrote almost a book just on his background.  I know everything from who his first girlfriend was to why he doesn't like motorcycles, even though he is a bad boy.  Hmm, a bad boy scared of motorcycles.  Now that is interesting right?

So what is one of your secrets for character development?  I won't steal it.  Okay, maybe I will, but I love new ideas and learning how everyone else does it.


Al said...

This is a mystery to me. As often as not they come to me almost fully formed, although they might reveal more about themselves as we go along.

Karla Nellenbach said...

what Al characters come to me already mostly complete and usually start whispering to me when they have big problems that they can't deal with themselves, and then it's up to me to sort it all out.

Linda G. said...

I never know the details about a character until I write the story. I tried working it all out ahead of time once, and failed miserably. The mystery is what keeps me going--if I know too much, I lose interest. (Yup. Dedicated pantser here.)

Laura Pauling said...

I think characters with flaws is what makes them so awesome! Without flaws, they end up being flat. Flaws endear us to the characters!

Candyland said...

I attach a real person to them, like a celebrity or someone I know. Then I pick and choose which flaws, etc I want them to carry.

Jeannie Moon said...

I write a biography, like you do--I know everything from how big he was when he was born to his favorite color. I also use pictures. I find someone (actor, musician, athlete) who is a physical representation of my hero and I make a gallery. Then I can gaze on his lusciousness as I write.

The other thing I do is focus on one trait. His eyes, his voice or something else. David in the book I just finished revising has great hands. That helps me bring along his development.

Kelly Breakey said...

Jeannie: It is good to know I am not alone. For the rest of you, friends that don't outline, I really don't understand. I have to have the characters and the story lines worked out in my head all the way before I start.

Okay, maybe I AM the freak. I can live with that.

Patty Blount said...

I am an outliner. I typically have characters first, then story. Dan in SEND was conceived when I wondered, "Wow. How do you recover from the guilt when someone commits suicide because of the picture you posted online?"

Also, consider the post I did on cardboard characters. Find flaws that connect his past to his present and future. Like Arlene Fleet's promise to never lie and how she says avoiding the truth is not the same thing as lying.