Character Building

I often get asked how I create my characters. One buddy of mine commented that I’m good at having layers to my people – that he senses there’s more to them than what’s written on the page. I was quite thrilled at this feedback, but honestly don’t feel I can take credit for it.

I’ll go into a little bit about Kat specifically in my PwF character bio, but the truth of the matter is that my character comes to me – very rarely do I create them. JK Rowling says (and I paraphrase), that her main Harry Potter characters walked into her mind fully developped one day, and that’s a phenomenon I can understand.

For me, I get inspiration for a story idea – something generic and vague, and I think of someone who belongs in that setting. Then it’s kind of like a job interview, a person will pop into my mind and say, “Hi, I think I’m right for this story”, and so a relationship will commence. At first I only know the basics. I know what they look like, and a few general personality traits. As the story keeps going, I learn a little more, until they’re a best friend that keeps me company.

Just today a character I’ve been trying to get to know shared a big secret about himself that he’s kind of been holding back.I think it’ll go a long way to fleshing him out in the story.

Maybe you think I sound a little crazy, or maybe you can relate. I guess it all depends on your system of writing. But I’m sure that most of you can appreciate that subtle “click” when something (plot-related, character-related, etc.) falls into place, and suddenly everything you’ve written before makes sense, even if at the time you didn’t realise it did. It’s a great feeling, as if you’re taking them down the right and only path.

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3 comments

  1. Interesting post Krista. LIke you, characters often come to me fully developed and I tweak/learn more about them as I write. I think sometimes trying to 'build' a character first can often lead to flat characters. The ones that you develop from initial impressions often in my experience turn into the most compelling – probably because they are informed by the writing at the time, rather than trying to shoe-horn traits to them at the start.

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