Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Writing Hint #16 - The Giant Book of Everything I Need to Know About My Characters

She hates strawberries. Wait. She hates watermelons.

He loves baseball. Or was it football…?

Her favorite color is green! No, it’s orange.

Umm, help?

Every writer has to create an entire cast of characters from scratch. We have to give them personalities, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, physical descriptions,….

Essentially, we have to give them life.

Beyond personal traits, we have to give our characters a depth that comes with knowing their background, who their family is, what their experiences have been and how those experiences have shaped their personalities, actions, and general outlook on life.

And this doesn’t need to only happen with the MC (main character). It has to happen with every single character that makes an appearance in your novel. It’s true that a minor character who only shows up for one or two scenes will not require the development that the MC requires. But those minor characters still need a depth of history that a reader can feel, even if it is only hinted at. (You never know when one of those minor characters might make another appearance *wink wink*)

With so many characters and so many personalities and so many quirks, how can we keep everything straight in our heads? 

*Cue drums of greatness*

The Giant Book of Everything I Need to Know About My Characters!!

(Yes, I could have made the title shorter. But I didn’t want to. *snicker*)

Write everything down in it. And I mean everything – every seemingly near-insignificant speck of information that reveals something about your character. It makes it so much easier to give your characters the depth and development they deserve. If nothing else, it will help you to remember whether they hate strawberries or watermelons. *smile*


  1. Oh I know, it's so easy to get each of our characters traits mixed up, isn't it? I keep a notebook handy and try to remember to write new things down as I add them. It's hard to make myself do sometimes, but a Giant Book of Everything I Need to Know About My Characters is a necessary evil. LOL.

  2. Haha! Yes, it's definitely a necessary evil. It's time-consuming to put together but totally worth it in the end. :) Thanks for stopping by!