Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blog Chain - You're All Characters

Blog chain post time!!!  This post is brought to us by the brilliant Miss Abby, who wants to know:

Where do your characters come from? And once they've been introduced to you, how do you get to know them?

When I was younger, I used to fill out these crazy character profile sheets and all that nonsense.  But these days, my characters sort of speak to me.  I hear their voices first.  Then, as I write, I get to know them.  Sometimes an ability or characteristic will come out of a need in the story, but most of the time, characteristics simply appear organically.  For instance, in Deathday Letter Shane is a terrible driver.  I never sat down and thought that Shane should or would be a terrible driver.  It simply came up that Shane was a bad driver.  He told me.  Actually, Ollie told me Shane was a bad driver, Shane thought his driving was ace.

I suppose I've found that when I have a preconceived notion of who or what a character is, I find that it's more difficult to expand beyond those notions. But if I discover the character as I go, I learn fascinating things about them that I wouldn't have otherwise learned.  It sounds all wishy-washy, I know, but pre-defining characters creates a mental block that I sometimes have problems working around.  If I decide before writing the story that a character is mean, then I become caged in by that.  And I hate being caged in.

So yeah.  Is that an answer?  Like life, I enjoy exploring, beginning with a blank slate, and getting to know my characters as I go.

Well, that's it for this blog chain.  If you haven't read Michelle M's fantastic musings, head over there, or start at the beginning and read the whole chain!


  1. It doesn't surprise me at all that Ollie had to tell you that about Shane. ;) Sometimes you have to learn about characters from other characters.

  2. Every time I hear character profile sheet, or anything like it, I think Dungeons and Dragons. I'm a nerd like that.

    For writing it's totally different for me. Characters are never set in stone and can change and reveal themselves to me as the tale progresses (at least that's how it works so far in the one novel I've written).

  3. Great answer, Shaun. And yeah, that's sounds pretty appropriate for both Ollie and Shane :) Great guys, but definitely very different characters (and so nicely written, I might add).

  4. I simply wouldn't have the patience to write out character sketches. I'd be to itchy to get to the meat and potatoes of the plot.

  5. I totally agree that sometimes pre-deciding what a character is like can be a trap, whereas when you just find out as you go - you open yourself and the story up to so many more possibilities.

  6. I agree-if I think I have a character down and then I get stuck, it's usually becuase I've painted their personality into that proverbial corner. I *hate* that.

    You gotta be flexible.

    Nice post!


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