In my last post I mentioned that I often develop characters while walking. It relaxes me and allows me to focus without the distractions of my writing space (commonly referred to as my children). I have been working on character development for several short stories, but while walking today I came upon the idea for a brand new tale, complete with plot, ending, and all the “round” characters.
That is one thing I love about a good story, it all seems to fall together. I am a firm subscriber to the school of thought that says a great character drives a story better than a good plot, making it more believable. That isn’t to say plot and setting aren’t important, just that I feel a great character can almost tell the story simply in their personality.
Personally I probably spend too much time on character development for short 5,000-8,000 word fictions. I really get into it, picturing the favorite meals, nervous habits, what attracts them to the significant other/opposite sex, and anything I else I can brainstorm.
I want to make this blog something you can use to inspiration and information, so I thought I’d share one of the templates I made for plotting a character. I divide my list into two sections, essentials and modifiers. The essentials are:
- Physical Description
Additionally I like to brainstorm the following characteristics, more for reference than necessity. You may have others, or find some of these less than useful, but here is my list as a guideline:
- Hobbies (may be essential depending on prevalence to story)
- Past Regrets
- Nervous “tics”
- body language
There is one part of character creation that I feel like I am not too good at or very fond of – naming the character. In desperation I have even thumbed through the phone book and Frankenstein’d a name out of pieces of various entries.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on character development. What do you like, what is difficult, and what spurs you on?