For the next year, Christa (Hooked on Books), Jen (Almost Grown Up) and I will be posting about our writing adventures. We’ll be checking in every Saturday with our word counts and story updates, as well as discussions on craft and inspiration. If all goes well, we may even have novels ready for revisions and beta readers by the end of the year!
Word Count: 1000
Total Word Count: 4200
(It hasn’t been a fun week, but I’m hoping things will pick up this weekend!)
As you may already know from checking out my lovely friends’ posts this week, Camp Wordsmith is all about our crazy band of characters. Personally, creating characters is my favourite thing about writing.
The way I see characters and stories in general is very much tied into my own sense of self and my connections to people, especially my family. My identity isn’t tied to a place but to people, and many of my characters harbor that same inability to connect to a certain place. Home, as the cliché goes, is where the heart is. The hearts of my characters are where I locate them: their fears, their insecurities, their desires are what move the plot forward.
Once I’ve thought of a character, I like to use a combination of resources to flesh them out. Among them are NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program workbooks, Scrivener’s character profiles and the Proust Questionnaire.
Young Writers Program workbooks:
While the two tools I mentioned above are useful in getting the general traits and appearance of a character down, the Proust Questionnaire is most valuable to me. It helps me to understand my characters, to figure out their mental and emotional history, and to see where they might be headed next. I found it especially helpful in mapping out short stories, because there is a limited amount of space in which to convince readers of a character’s worthiness.
The important thing to remember is that while these tools can aid the writing process, not every single detail you fill in should be used in the story. We can be friends with people without knowing every single thought or wish they’ve ever had. Likewise, readers don’t need to know what colour toothbrush Character A uses unless it’s important to the story. The little quirks Character B has should be used wisely by the writer to make the character more tangible to the reader. Characters don’t have to be a reader’s best friends, but they should certainly be interesting and vibrant.
Books with great character development:
Will Grayson, Will Grayson, John Green and David Levithan
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, E. Lockhart
Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins
And Then Things Fall Apart, Arlaina Tibensky
A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray
Categories: Camp Wordsmith