©2011 Tambra Kendall
I hope this post on characterization is helpful. Sometimes just hearing something explained in a different way by another writer makes the AHA! moment occurs. This is adjusted from my Characterization and Plotting online workshop. If anyone is interested in taking the workshop, I'm teaching the last one of the year coming up at the end of October for Savvy Authors http://www.savvyauthors.com
I'm looking forward to your comments on this topic.
Daughters of Avalon Publishing
How do you start? I find the character chart an excellent beginning. It lets you see the development of the character as you fill in the information. These charts are fluid enough so you can change as needed for those who write by the seat of their pants.
I can't stress enough the importance of knowing your characters. You need to go deep to make them three-dimensional. You are creating a character with a past, present and a future. They have emotions, likes, dislikes and their point of view is how they view the world around them. Keep this in mind as you fill out the chart/charts.
You can always change things, as you get further along in a story and learn the character more. The charts also give you a quick reference on character statistics. When you work on multiple stories at a time this can really help and save you from using the find/search feature. This reference will help when you have to fill out cover art forms for a publisher.
Don’t be alarmed if you don’t have all the blanks filled out on the charts. Ideas will come to you as the character develops and becomes more real. Later on, you can to go back and make adjustments or fill in areas you didn’t know the answers to. Some authors have characters hit them full-fledged, while others have created this character in their mind and its just a matter of writing down the facts.
A story is fluid so don’t be afraid to make changes. On the other hand, if you change too much you’re going to have huge problems. As a writer, you need to learn how to balance this and that comes with practice. If this occurs, you need to step back and examine the documents. You might have too much information for one book.
Remember as your creating your characters they are not supposed to be perfect, they need flaws or else the reader won’t be able to identify with them. Without flaws, the character can’t grow and learn what they need to by the end of the book. It’s part of the character arc.This is one of the ways a three dimensional character is built.
KNOW THY CHARACTERS.
Character Charts and Interviews
If you’ve filled the character charts and still have problems getting to know your main characters, you can do a character interview. You can have a critique partner or writing friend help, which is fun. If no one is around you can do this on your own, so no worries.
Pretend your sitting across from your character and talk to them. Write down what you discover. Many authors have overcome plot obstacles, stumbling blocks this way. This may be where you begin to see how character motivation and plot are connected.
If you don’t have any charts, here are two charts to get you started. (Even if you do, sometimes having some extra charts with different items is all the muse needs to get going.)
Fill out for charts for each: hero, heroine and villain. A strong villain is needed so you need to know him/her too. Since your hero and heroine must be strong characters, so must your villain.
Character Development Chart
Title of Story:
Publisher: (or target publisher, if you know this)
3 positive, 3 negative
Mannerisms/Habits good or bad:
Character’s Greatest Fear:
Character’s Greatest Desire:
Self-Concept (How does character see themselves):