Creating Characters

May 14, 2008 at 10:56 am | Posted in writing | 6 Comments

As we look at character this week, I thought some fun resources to play with would be great


Looking at Character this week feels timely to me for so many reasons. RWA Craft loop has just been discussing it, over that the Romance Divas we’ve been discussing it, my wonderful CP Ann and I have been discussing it. . .And so, here are some fun Character Toys to play with.


“In my opinion, the best way to write believable stories is to pretend each character is you.” Or so says James Patrick Kelly in his article YOU AND YOUR CHARACTERS. Mr. Kelly does a wonderful job summarizing the whys and why-nots, the how and how-nots, the – you get the picture – of creating characters that work.


Peter Hill has a lovely site dedicated to writing HERE. He writes not only about character and conflict, but about the character arc and what it looks like. 


Elizabeth Rose has a great page HERE on creating characters with phobias.


Sandra Canfield wrote one of Romantic Times “Expert Advice” columns on “Creating ‘Characters’ with Character” HERE.  


Love worksheets? Try these:

Pamela Dowd : HERE 

Tara Harper: HERE has a collection of them HERE

The Scriptorium comes at the worksheet from “Sketch” or “Biography angles HERE.

Script Frenzy has a fun worksheet HERE used for their “Young Writer’s Program” — it’s specifically geared toward secondary characters.  


While all these resources are fun to play with, your characters should be people, personal and tangible to you. Think about those characters who still own a piece of your heart years after being first introduced to them. What made them so memorable, so real? How do you take those things and bring them to your own writing?


I know for me personally, my characters are real people. They do their own thing and talk back when I try to stop or redirect them. One of my favorite corrections my CP made was to circle a paragraph and write “Brennid wouldn’t do that. Maybe Tane. Can you switch them or change it?”


I was floored. My characters were become real to someone else and, honestly, what more can we hope for as writers?


So, make real people live in your head and Go Write




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  1. Great post. I’m a fanatic about worksheets so of course I love the list you’ve given. Elizabeth Rose’s article was just what I needed for my current WIP. Thanks!!!

  2. I love all the resources, Bria. Characterization is one of my biggest difficulties. Consistency is key and I often find myself forgetting who’s who. It sucks. I know them, like a know my friends, but I want to know them like I know my hubby, you know? Maybe these exercises will help. 😉

  3. I loathe worksheets, but I love reading articles — great links, bria! Thank you!

  4. I love the Peter Hill page. It really helped me understand the character arc idea. I find building characters fascinating — start with a little snippet or a stereotype and it just builds from there. I’ll have to check out some of the others, the Rose and Cranfield ones look interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    I must say, I don’t see the sense in killing off your darlings (in terms of characters, not just prases, lines or scenes you’ve fallen in love with). If they’re not a good fit right now, no sense in burning your bridges completely, just let them drift into the ideas box and check back in on them once in a while. Maybe you’ll be able to write a new story, one that you’re ready to be involved in.

  5. Thanks ladies – I love that I have you all as resources and idea-listeners over on the diva board. Thanks for the continuing help with my strong-willed characters!

  6. LOL, Bria! I love it when your CP gets to know your characters as well as you do. Makes for a great working relationship.

    Nice post, BTW.

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