Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Developing Character

I admit that I don't spend a lot of time before I start writing a manuscript to outline my plot, sketch my characters, or create an emotional arc.  Instead, I write and let the characters develop themselves and the plot.  

I know that there isn't only one right way to be a writer, but here's some advice that I learned about character development from published authors at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference:
  • All characters--heroes, villains, and secondary/tertiary characters--need to have strengths and weaknesses. (Alane Ferguson)
  • As characters matter more to each other, they matter more to the reader. (Brandon Mull)
  • Make sure secondary characters aren't "cardboard"--especially parents and young children. (Sara Zarr)
  • Avoid stereotypical characters.  Each character must be "fresh." (Alane Ferguson)
  • Characters need to relate to others, be interesting, and be likeable. (Brandon Mull)
  • Be personally involved.  Be passionate about your characters and connect on deeper levels.  (Sara Zarr)
 What about you?  Is there any other advice about developing characters that you can add, either with your own experience or from conferences you've attended?


Anonymous said...

Those are all really great advice for writing character. Thank you for sharing them!

Corinne O'Flynn said...

great bits of advice! my characters thank you. :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

I took a workshop once on creating a "motto" for your character to live by. For ex. Maybe you have a hero whose motto is "do the right thing" or a flighty heroine whose motto is "life is short, eat dessert first".
That really helps me as far understanding them and then making that motto change by the end of the story.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, sometimes we need these reminders. You actually made me think of a couple of minor cardboard characters I need to develop.

Andria said...

I think these are all great suggestions.

rbs said...

Because I am new at this, and because I attended WIFYR's beginner's class where we didn't talk much about character arc, could you define it for me? Please!

Mohamed Mughal said...

Avoid "stock" characters.