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 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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