Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Character Development Tips


Last weekend I went to my very first meeting of the Rose City Chapter of the RWA in Portland.

As a newcomer to Oregon, I am forcing myself to join as many writing groups as possible. Making “friends” when we get older is quite different from making friends during our college days. The friends I did make when I lived in Los Angeles were all work-related but now I have transitioned into working from home, I find myself incredibly isolated. Yes, poor me ... but I digress!

Internationally best-selling novelist Cathy Lamb led the workshop on character development and came up with a number of new questions that I found really helpful. Here are just a few that got me digging deeper.
*To avoid repetitive use of him/her I have stuck with “him.”
  • What is his profession and why did he decide to do this for a living?
  • What mistakes has he made in his life and what mistakes does he continue to make?
  • How much money does he have and is money important to him?
  • What irritates him? What makes his temper explode?
  • What do other people think of him? Does he care?
  • What advice would he give you about your life? What advice would you give him?
  • Where will he be in ten years?
  • What makes him laugh? What makes him cry?
Cathy then got us to draw our protagonist … I’ve always been crap at art so my figure resembled a stick with no feet but it really helped pinpoint physical details. Another idea she shared which I thought very cool was to keep a scrapbook for your protagonist. In this Cathy jots down characteristics; collects magazine cuttings of the interior of her character’s imagined home; holiday vacation spots or just anything that helps bring a character to life. Although I keep detailed character biographies on my computer, I went out and bought an art sketchbook yesterday for my new character Kat Stanford and I've already started to fill it ... and have made some startling discoveries. I had no idea Kat spoke fluent French but she does! 

So … all you people out there … care to share your character development tips? I'm all ears. 

Oh … and for anyone interested in entering The Golden Rose Contest, go to http://www.rosecityromancewriters.com/contest-home. The deadline is July 31, 2013 and the requirements are simply the submission of the first 10,000 words. Categories are: Contemporary series, Contemporary Single Title, Historical, Novel with strong Romantic Elements, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense, Young Adult. 

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