Invite Your Characters Into Your Book!
You know the premise of your story, now it’s time to create a character bible for profiling each of your significant characters. Devote at least a page to each character and include the following:
Name and photograph. (Photo optional), but if you come across a picture of someone in a magazine or an old family photo that reminds you of your character, add it to the page for an effective way to spur creativity and flesh out character.
Physical characteristics. The basics of height, weight, hair and eye color, etc.
Age. Actual birth date if it’s relevant.
Personality traits and their source. For example, is the character lazy because her mother always picked up after her? Does he love baseball because it’s the only game his father ever played with him?
Quirks. Imperfections that make your character human, such as a tendency to hum when nervous; the more original the better.
Goals and motivations. What your character wants and why he or she wants it.
Conflict - list the obstacles, large and small, that the character faces in achieving his goals.
General story line. Draft a three to five sentence summary of the character’s story arc; this will be a character-specific version of your novel summary from step 2.
As an author you always need to know more about your characters than your reader ever sees. This allows you to create a multi-dimensional, internally consistent population of characters for your novel. Remember to keep your character outlines to one page per person so the process doesn’t morph from novel writing to scrapbooking! Although you may need to keep another list of tangibles about your characters, e.g. car, car color, home details, timelines of jobs, etc.
This step is the most fun. Watching your characters take shape is a rewarding part of the creative process, and critical to the success of your novel. They say there are no new storylines, just new ways of telling them. And for a new way to work, the reader needs to fall in love with your characters!
Have a great week and an exciting fourth!
Note: The Pyramid approach to novel structure was developed by Jess Lourey, www.jesslourey.com