|Photo credit: Chris Guillebeau on Flickr|
In the past I’ve written about ways to get to know your characters, but over the course of several manuscripts, I’ve come to realize that my methods for getting to know my characters has changed over time.
You see, I’ve come to realize that while I’ve become a plotter as far as the events of a manuscript goes, when it comes to my characters, I tend to pants them. Or…rather…write them off the cuff, not take off their…ehem.
I usually have a general idea as to what the main characters will be like (usually the protagonist, love interest or significant other and the antagonist), and I usually have physical descriptions all set up, but I don’t really get to know them until I start writing. Why? Because I kept finding that just about every time I tried to force a character into a particular personality, it came out flat and…well, forced.
So instead of fighting my characters and trying to shove them into a particular personality box, I’ve been trying a new method of just letting them do their own thing. I start with a vague image of what they look like and what I think they might be like, then run with it. And so far at least? It’s been pretty fun to watch them develop, and on more than one occasion, they’ve surprised me.
Now, that doesn’t mean that they’re perfect after the first draft—far from it. I often have to take some time during revisions to really pull out elements of their personality and make them distinctive, interesting characters with their own backstory, and flaws, and a life of their own. For me, at least, the time to pull out character sheets and brainstorming methods comes after I’ve already drafted them and gotten to know them a bit—because now I have a solid starting point to build off of.
So that’s my current method—now I want to hear from you: how do you get to know your characters?
When do you meet your characters? Here's why a plotter stopped planning characters before drafting. (Click to tweet)
Writers, how do you get to know your characters? Join the discussion at @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)