Writing Tip – More on Character Development #amwriting

I was conversing with a fellow author last night and the subject of character development came up.  We talked about how we developed our characters with full profiles before we even began to write our novels.  I have about a page of questions that I ask myself, but when she sent me hers I knew I just had to share it with you.  Her profiles are in depth and it shows in her novels.  Her name is Jude Stephens and she writes paranormal romances.  Find out more about her at www.judestephens.com. I’ve read her books and they are a definite Do Not Miss.  After reading her method of character development I can see why her characters are so believable.  I hope you can learn from her methods.  Here they are:

1. Character Name.

2. Siblings? Relationship with parents and siblings? Good/Bad?

3. Where did character grow up?

4. Choose three clubs/sports the character was involved in in high school.

5. What is a quirk (such as spinning hair around a finger when nervous, etc.?)

6. When decorating an apartment, where would your character shop (Pottery Barn or Wal-Mart?)

7. What role does money play in your character’s life (is a 20″ b/w TV just as good as a 50″ flat screen?)

8. What does the character look like?

9. How do you see the character (i.e., sterotype, caricature)

10. Possible conflicts in personality (i.e., likes to watch sports, but hates to PLAY them.)

11. Possible need for change.

12. Values and beliefs (church-going, would the character steal if starving, etc.)

13. How beliefs and values clash (would the character steal if sufficient reason? What is that reason?)

14. What do they need in a mate?

15. Who is the worst person for them to fall in love with?

16. What makes the character emotionally dangerous (seeing someone strike a child, etc.?)

17. What is it about the character that makes it impossible to simply “walk away” from the crisis of the plot?

18. What does the character most admire about their best friend?

19. What drives the character insane about their best friend?

20. How does the plot help the character learn a lesson or grow?

21. What is the error in thinking during the plot (thought they could trust someone, so didn’t spot danger?)

22. Why did they think this?

23. As a result of this mistake, what do they need to learn?

24. What is keeping them from learning it?

25. What are the ways the character tries to “cheat” to keep from having to grow?

26. What event in the external plot forces the character to either grow or change?

27. What is your character’s greatest fear? (afraid of the dark, commitment, spiders?)

28. What is your character’s greatest secret?

29. What is your character’s best childhood memory?

30. What is your character’s WORST childhood memory?

Now you may look at these and say HOLY COW!  I know I did, but for all the right reasons.  These are questions that build  a better character and help you if you are writing a series and need a reference point.  I for one have these saved and have them ready to go for my next novel.  Please share your thoughts on character development as well.  Thanks for sharing, Jude.

Books by Kelly Abell     Promotional Materials by Select-O-Grafix

Copyright 2015 by Kelly Abell

About Kelly Abell

I am a writer, blogger, and graphic artist. My aim for you is to utilize this blog to help you improve your writing skills, and to educate you on the publishing business. If you need help with writing, want to self-publish a book and need advice, or just want to kick a story idea around to see what works best, that's what I'm here for. As I gain knowledge from editors and publishers, I will share that knowledge with you. As writers we should always strive to improve our craft and grow. A day should not pass where you haven't learned or tried something new with your writing. Many thanks to my Night Owl Friend, Lea Ellen Borg for editing my posts! Best to you and all your characters and stories. Write on, my friends...Write on.
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3 Responses to Writing Tip – More on Character Development #amwriting

  1. Kelly – this list for a character profile is useful and I myself have a spreadsheet with over 200 rows in various categories (Social, Physical, Geographical, Assets etc.), but what I caution (IMO) is to not get too hung up with character profiling to the point it keeps the writing from actual writing. What I’ve generally found in my limited experience is not a high percentage of the character traits come out in the novel and what a write might be tempted to do is look at these traits and try to figure out a way to portray the character rather then allowing the plot of the story dictate the character’s actions.


    • Kelly Abell says:

      This is a good point, Jack. Writers don’t need anything to paralyze the writing of the story and if you’re doing your job right your characters will change and learn and grow. A characterization is a good way to get started and keep you on track, but don’t let it keep you from writing that first draft. Spend enough time on this time to give yourself a framework and build from there. Thanks for the comment.


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