Sunday, January 29, 2012

Character Development

This past week, I attended Jude Wilner's "Characterization" workshop, which was hosted by the Alberta Romance Writers' Association. She shared with us her process for developing believable characters. One of her primary tools is a character chart, which is essentially a series of fill-in-the-blank questions.
(Image © Victor Correia | Dreamstime.com)
However, she does not simply throw words and ideas in those blanks, she takes it a step further and asks the questions: Why? Or, why not?

For example: What is your character's name? Why?  "Just because" is not a suitable answer unless you have really pondered the question and you have concluded that for that particular question it is an appropriate answer. This series of questions allows you to explore your character's relationships, their choices, their past, their hang-ups, their fears and their hopes.

In the past I've done character sketches, I've tried interviews, and I've developed a few character charts of my own... but refreshing my writer's toolbox is always exciting. After all, character development is spending time with your characters so you know them before you start writing. Sure, the characters will reveal new previously unknown facets of themselves as you write, but if you can go in with a solid, thoroughly explored foundation, it can only help.

I am looking forward to using Jude's technique for my next story and seeing how it works for me.

*****
ARWA's blog also has a summary of Jude's talk.  Click here to check it out! 

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