Happy Friday! I hope you were a good student and did your homework yesterday. I spent hours working on my character profiles and flushing out their back stories. More importantly, I spent time on asking why questions. This exercise was inspired by Shaelin at Reedsy or https://youtu.be/PqKxLx3As28.
If you didn’t have time, or become a master procrastinator when it comes to writing, then here is a summary of her tips for developing characters.
- Golden rule #1 Introduce a character we’ve never met before. Protagonists needs to earn their place. Readers will ask why this character out of a million has their story on the shelf. It’s highly unlikely that they’re there because they’re just like everyone else. What makes them different?
- Golden rule #2 Characters must have goals. This rule asks the big question of why? Can you put it in simple terms or boil the story down to a few sentences. Protagonists need to accomplish something by the end of the book or there wouldn’t be a story.
- Characters change over time. These are dynamic characters. How and why do they change? I think back to previous writing advice from other authors on this point. There needs to a transformation or role reversal at some point. Why? The character can’t reach their goal doing the same thing they’ve always done. Just like you can’t write a book without writing. Something needs to change internally.
- Develop their back story. Many writers do this with flashback. Connecting the reader to a back story helps them understand the characters perspective. This fills in the cracks of what you’re building to create a solid character that’s clear to the reader. They might think that they would have done the same thing if that happened to them. Any time a reader can step into your characters shoes, then you’re creating a memorable story that can make an impact.
Today is short and sweet to give you more time to devote to your craft. My skimpy one page character sheets are now worthy of fitting into a larger file folder. My weekend should fill a few more files. Happy writing!
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