Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Do you connect to your characters?

A few years ago I worked with a lady who wrote Harlequin Romances. When I told her that I was interested in writing a book she gave me what she used to develop her characters. It was about three sheets full of questions like:

Hair Color
Eye Color
Speech/Frequently used phrases

I tried using it before I started writing my book. I filled out every question, putting down what I thought my character would like. What her strengths and weaknesses were? But when it came to write her I became frustrated because I really didn’t know my character until I began to put her in situations. The connection didn’t come until after I’d been with her for a while. Now I love her and all of the other characters in the book even the bad ones. But it took a while.

What about you do you write a character sketch or do you just have a general idea before writing?


strugglingwriter said...

I just start with the general idea. I think a character sketch would really help, though, because it took me a while to get to know my characters. The sketch would help with this I think.


Holly Kennedy said...

First, I imagine them in my mind and then, as you do, I learn more about who they are when I put them in certain situations that test them.

I can't use a character sketch. Tried once and found it way to boxy and restricting.

giddymomof6 said...

First they come to me and introduce themselves and I have a few crazy conversations with them, where I just watch them tell me their story. I like to really look at them, the way the move their hands, the way they look, what words the use--all of that. They are as real to me as any of my best friends... then I write and place them in all kinds of awkward situations and then watch and see what they do once they're there. LOL! Did that make any sense? I've never said I wasn't crazy! LOL! Jenni

Patti said...

SW: Sometimes a character sketch can get you started.

Holly: I agree in the end I found the CS's too restricting.

Jenni: Sometimes after everyone has gone to bed, I'll act out a scene to try to see it better. How crazy is that.

Jessie Oliveros said...

Sometimes I'll put my characters in real life situations with me, and try to see how exactly they will respond.

Chantele said...

I can't use character sketches either. My characters just tend to pop into my head one day, and start talking. I then write down what they are saying, and put them in different situations. It's weird, because usually I think of the character in a situation first, and then think "I should write a book about that!" Hopefully that makes sense!;) Thanks for visiting my blog by the way!

Lazy Writer said...

I start with a general idea about the character, but then he/she most definately develops over time as I am writing. I saw this interview with Jodi Picoult, and she said that her characters speak to her. That's kind of the way I feel. In fact, when writing my first novel, my protag spoke so loudly to me that the entire plot changed before I got to the end. This meant a lot of rewriting, but it was worth it. The new plot is much, much better!

Lazy Writer said...

OOOOPS! I spelled "definitely" wrong. I really need to proof read my comments!

Patti said...

Jessie: That's a good way to do it. How would you react in that circumstances.

Chantele: It's interesting how different people work. Story always comes first then I start thinking about what type of characters I can put in that story.

LW: I haven't gotten to the point where characters speak to me, hopefully one day.

jenniferneri said...

Great blog!
I've realized that I get to know my characters as I write. I do not ever do things like character sketches, or outlines. I can't. It's after my first draft that I go back and manage the inconsistencies in my work. By that point I know my characters really well, as I've lived with them.