10 Simple Things to Ask Your Characters to Give Them Depth

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10 Simple Things to Ask Your Characters to Give Them Depth

Postby JamieCOTC » Sun Aug 07, 2016 4:25 pm

From Writer'sLife.org.

Character development is important in any novel, and creating characters that are layered, interesting and alluring are one element of your book that will make readers love it.

Without interesting characters, novels fall flat on their feet. Readers want to be able to emotionally invest in the characters they are reading about. They want to feel what they feel, be touched by their stories and be rooting for them (or not if they are a villainous character) come the end of the story.

The point is they need to care, be it good or bad, and without that it will be very difficult for them to engage with your story or want to read anything else you have written.

So how do you write great characters?

You’ve got to know them. Really know them. You characters should live inside your head and you should understand them fully. Getting to know your characters is imperative, and while much of what you will learn about them may not reach the pages of your book, making sure you spend time with them, study them, and know what they would do or say in any situation means that it will be so much easier for you to write them.
The best way to get to know your characters is to ask them questions. You can write down their answers or simply ask them in your head and make sure you have a clear answer from them.

The important point to remember that this is all part of your research and background study. You need to know your characters backstory, and every little mundane detail about how they live their lives. This doesn’t mean you need to write all of this down in your book. As Stephen King wisely said:
“The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.” —Stephen King

Unless a characters backstory somehow drives the action forward, or is crucial information that the reader must know then leave out the long descriptions. By this I mean explaining a character and where they came from in great detail, or telling us right away how many times they’ve been in love, or what they like for dinner etc. If you know your character well enough this will come out more naturally here and there in the narrative anyway.

With this in mind, here are 10 questions to ask your characters to get to know them better.

1. How old are they and do they act their age? Do they mind being that old or are they clinging to their youth? Perhaps they are old before their time?
2. What was their childhood like? How do they get on with their relatives? Are their parents still alive, and if not what happened?
3. What kind of relationships do they have with others? Do they have a partner, and if so is it a happy relationship? Do they have lots of friends or are they more of a recluse?
4. What hobbies and passions do they have? Find out what they love to do.
5. What makes them happiest?
6. What makes them most afraid?
7. What makes them angry?
8. What was the best moment of their lives? What was the worst?
9. Their biggest secret? and who knows it?
10. Can you describe them in one word?

Other advice on characters from Writer'sLife.org.
How to get to know your characters.
5 Tips To Help Name Your Characters
Ways to accidentally kill of your characters
How to Write an Unhappy Ending
Create the Perfect villain
Killing your darlings
Women are from Venus: How to Write Convincing Characters
5 Tips On Writing Great Dialogue
Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules For Writers

From Writer's Digest
How to Write a Character From Start to Finish
11 Secrets to Writing Effective Character Description
Writing the Unlikable Character (and Why You Should)
8 Ways to Write Better Characters
The Four ‘R’s of Writing Characters of the Opposite Gender
Writing Steampunk: Plots, Characters, Settings & More
How to Create Instantly (& Instinctively) Recognizable Characters
When Characters Become People
5 Moral Dilemmas That Make Characters (& Stories) Better
How to Make Ordinary Characters Compelling
How to Push Your Characters to Their Limits
4 Ways to Motivate Characters and Plot
Novel Writing: 10 Questions You Need to Ask Your Characters

And from around the web.
25 Things A Great Character Needs
5 Tips For Creating Characters Readers Can’t Wait to Come Back To
Writing Beyond Good: Crafting Memorable Characters
How to Create Good Personalities for Your Characters
How to Make Readers Love an Unlikable Character—And Hate a Likable One
13 ways to create compelling characters

Finally, here is a chart used to describe and create your characters. It's a bit lengthy, so be aware.
The EPIGUIDE.COM Character Chart for Fiction Writers

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Re: 10 Simple Things to Ask Your Characters to Give Them Depth

Postby Ground_Squirrel » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:55 pm

This is really helpful for setting up a background for your characters. Some of those items I thought about, others I never really considered. It'd be nice to implement those for Renée's profile at some point.

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