Filtering by Tag: character development

Q is for Questionnaires

I'm a big fan of getting to know my characters really well before I start writing. My favorite method? Questionnaires. Name, age, hair and eye color, height and all that basic stuff. But then I ask them what their favorite childhood memory is. Or what person had the biggest impact on their life. It's more than just knowing the surface things about these people that live in my head. I need to know what makes them tick. Why they do the things they do.

It really helps to build a story with characters that are that well-developed. Even if your reader never knows that your main character had the chicken pox when she was thirteen or that her favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip, or that the smell of vanilla gives her a tummy ache. But if YOU know these things, that character is that much more alive to you.

And when your characters are alive in your mind, they'll come to life on the page.

What about you? Do you use questionnaires? What do you ask your characters? What other methods do you use to get to know them?

Ahh, Fall

October is flying by. I can't stand it. I love October. It's been such a beautiful fall this year, with mild temperatures and gorgeous shades of gold, orange and red. I want to live in that world forever. Sadly, with each day that passes, the weather gets colder. The leaves fall to the ground. Winter is nearing. I am not ready for it.

I have been neglecting my blog again. But it hasn't been for nothing, I swear! I've finished the outline for my NaNo novel, which is something I really struggled with last year. I still need to re-interview my characters and get to know them again, but other than that, I feel prepared for the insanity of NaNoWriMo.

I'm sure I would have had my character interviews finished by now if it weren't for the crack that is The Hunger Games. I've spent the majority of October immersed in the world of Katniss Everdeen and her friends, family and enemies. I have to say, I've learned a lot from these books. Suzanne Collins put that poor girl through hell but I think it just made me care about her and what happened to her even more.

It's gotten the wheels in my head turning. When we throw things at our characters -- death, the possibility of yours and probability of those around you, heartache, torment, indecision, etc -- it forces them to grow and react in ways we might not have realized. It's the true test of whether your character is developed enough.

So, as a result, I've been pondering my novels. Trying to think of anything I can throw their way. To see what they're made of.

What are your thoughts? Do you think hardship strengthens your characters and the bond your reader has with them?