How can I possibly add anything?
Welp, I don’t have the answer to that question, BUT. I hope I actually do have something to offer!
Because I love characters, I am going to set up camp with them and never leave. J/k. But seriously, I want to dedicate a lot of posts to character development.
If you haven’t taken the time to get to know your characters, you need to set up a coffee date with each of them immediately. Or a hot chocolate date. Or a picnic. You get the idea. Get to know your characters!
Build up a database of them, including their:
- Height, build, clothing, and other necessary and relevant physical descriptors
- Personality and personality quirks, manner of speaking, motives, and secrets/baggage
- Life philosophy and spiritual inclinations
*Anything that is relevant for the reader to understand the characters, the story, and their role in the story is something that you should include.* Savvy?
If you are looking for a good starting point, or need a way to get everything organized, consider these character charts, compliments of Rebecca Sinclair and Jody Hedlund.
Maybe you’re the type of person who feels as though they need to know everything about their character (I’m SO guilty of this, if you couldn’t tell). Maybe you’re the type of person who wants to know what you need to and then move out. Adjust the chart to your personal style while trying to remain as true as possible to the characters you’ll be writing about.
In writing, less is more. But in order to write less in a compelling and meaningful way, you need to know what’s underneath the surface. And that’s why knowing your character as intimately as your pillow is important.
You can check out these personality tests and quizzes to see if the attributes you’ve given your character are legit to their psyche, if their responses to others make sense, etc. Oh. And they’re free, of course :).
The DISC: a simple test that lends insight to how an individual typically works with others.
Jung/MBriggs assessment: a complex test that highlights the individual’s psyche. This one gives a lot of information, and honestly, some of the questions are tough to answer even if you know your characters really well. You may just like to peruse the types without actually taking the test. (Simpler version: click here. And for a link to just see the types: click here.)
Mary-Sue: a litmus test for character originality. This is more of a fun quiz—although it is kind of lengthy—that is brutally honest when it comes to testing a character’s originality. To be taken with a grain of salt. Still, if you score an excessive amount of points, you might want to consider revamping said character…
Type A or B…or C: a test that hones in a person’s style in relation to time and tasks.
Elemental test: an intuitive test that gives short, pithy insight to a person’s personality.
Btw, I’m not exactly endorsing any of these, but I think they can come in handy. Use discretion :)
*For female writers*
Did you know that male authors (at least in high fantasy) tend to describe the inner world and attributes of their male characters, while female authors (“”) tend to describe the external world and physical attributes of them? I found a mini study on the subject. The paper isn’t blindingly brilliant, but it’s kinda fascinating. Once I find the link (IF I can find it…), I’ll put it up if you’d like to read about his findings.
So if you’re a female author looking to dig deeper into the psyche of your male characters, read more material written by males! Who would've thought.
**P.S. This may sound really lame or just plain whiny, but I’m new to this whole blogging thing…so if my posts aren’t exactly stellar, don’t give up on me. I’m learning!