Wednesday, August 7, 2013


When I started writing my first book, characterization was my main focus.  I knew if I got to know – really know my characters - then my readers would care about them too.  So, especially as a beginning writer – how can we get to know our characters before starting the story?

1.    The first thing I like to do is imagine is what he/she looks like.  Yep – I want a visual image.  I will spend hours going through internet pictures of men, women, children… until I find pictures that best portray the characters of my book.  I will print those pictures for my ‘story board.’
2.    Define five traits about each character: name, age, appearance (size, eye color, hair color, freckles, big hands, broad/thin, short/tall, tattoos, limp, etc.), relationships (married, divorced, children? Etc.) and personality (introvert, loud/quiet, angry, happy, split-to the world happy/home a monster, etc.)
3.    Once your book is finished - go through and read each character’s dialog – are they staying in-character?  Would he/she really say that?  Are the physical traits correct?  Are the character’s actions realistic?  Do one character at a time.
4.    Rewrite any areas that sound forced or unnatural.
5.    Did a character, or maybe several, appear in the beginning but not in the end, or vice versa?  Will the reader wonder what happened to them? Are they necessary to your story?  If not – delete them – this will tighten your story.   
6.    Are there any unresolved issues?  Did you notice any foreshadowing by a character that hasn’t been carried out or explained by the end?  If so – tighten it up and resolve or explain the incident.  Again – is this clue necessary to help tell, excite, or make the reader ask ‘is he/she the killer?’  If it isn’t necessary – get rid of it.

Just these simple six items will help you get to know your characters better, will keep your characters true, and will make your story tighter. 


Molly Daniels said... one of my last books, I had a dog in Ch. 2. I didn't realize until two days before the book released it doesn't show up again, even though the heroine goes home twice more! So I notified my publisher and quickly added the dog to a three more scenes. Whew!

Rita Karnopp said...

Wow, Molly - what a catch! I've started jotting down things that I need to follow-through with later . . . save me from the stress of wondering ..'what did I forget'... Thanks for sharing. :) Rita

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