Write It–5 Ways to Get to Know Your Characters

harold_and_maude_1971_film_video_cover

As writers, we deal with constant challenges developing characters, constructing workable plots, and keeping our readers engaged as they travel through 300 plus pages. For this post, I’m focusing on developing fleshed out characters.

  1. Create vision boards with your characters in the center. I prefer to create one vision board per character. However, you can create a vision board for up to three main characters of your novel. Cut out images from magazines that reflect the personality traits and passions of your characters. Make sure you include their occupation, marital status, and dreams on the board.
  2. Pretend you are a journalist and interview your characters. Ask them what motivates them to get out of bed each morning. What do they desire most? And how will they strategize to reach their goals?
  3.  Design a chart with your characters’ strengths and weaknesses. Make sure that you include their blind spots such as weaknesses seen and witnessed by the other characters. We all have blind spots. And these blind spots help us develop our stories.
  4. Write lists of the characters’ physical attributes. This includes hair color, eye color, body type, and their clothing style.
  5. Write a chapter in the first person so that you can get into the character’s head. You can continue writing your novel in the first person or return to writing in the third person.

Creating fleshed out characters means that we step outside of our own minds and hearts. We birth characters from our imagination and yet, they are separate entities from us. Characters should surprise and shock us instead of coming across as navel-gazing. Just like a parent must let their children find their own way in the world through making mistakes and taking risks, so must our characters. It’s only our job to create worlds, experiences, and problems for our characters to experience.

I’m available for coaching you on your artistic and personal journey. I use astrology, channeling, and other metaphysical skills with my coaching practice. Sign up at Whole Astrology. I am also available to teach workshops.

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4 thoughts on “Write It–5 Ways to Get to Know Your Characters

    1. Thanks for your comment. I’ve often written a story starting in the first person and switched to the third person voice. And this has allowed me to enter the protagonist’s head. When I go for walks I often talk to my characters too. I have to be careful not to come off as schizophrenic, lol.

      Harold and Maude are memorable characters. I’ve only seen the movie. Is there also a novel for this movie? The characters that stick with us for a lifetime definitely pop off pages.

      Some characters created by Isabel Allende, Margaret Atwood, Kurt Vonnegut, and magic realism authors come to my mind in regard to memorable people. I’m also thinking of fantasy movies and novels such as The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. And who can forget Holly Golightly of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a great idea to at least start in the first person; it helps you get a grasp on not only a character’s personality, but their entire backstory as well!

        There is a Harold and Maude novel, though I’m not sure if it came before or after the movie. I read it many years ago, but it pretty much follows the movie’s plot.

        I like your taste in fiction! Holly Golightly is unforgettable –and maybe one of the strangest, craziest characters to come to mind, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Holly is a sad character too. I cried many times reading the novel.

    I’ll need to look up the novel for Harold and Maude. I’ll still picture Bud Cort as Harold and Ruth Gordan as Maude…

    Like

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