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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Author Insight: Creating Characters

When you conceptualize a character does personality or physicality come first or does a complete person instantly form?

"Usually a line of thought or dialogue comes first. I am extremely attuned to sound, so I tend to hear my characters before anything else, and then everything else falls into place. I hear their inner monologue typically, and that tells me something about their personality, which gets fleshed out, so to speak, over time. As for physicality, I really don’t focus on the physicality of my characters. I have no idea what Rafe from Openly Straight looks like. He looks like me at 17 sometimes. Other times, he looks like me only cuter. I’m sure no two people reading that book would choose the same actor as his likeness." - Bill Konigsberg, author of Openly Straight

"It depends on the character. I have had characters spring into my head fully formed, and I have had to drag others out, characteristic by characteristic, kicking and screaming. There's no 'normal' for me on this one." - Aprilynne Pike, author of Life After Theft and Earthbound.

"The first thing that comes is an attitude, a point of view. Then, they begin to form physically. More pieces come into play as they’re needed. Sometimes, it takes the whole story before I know who that person really is. And then comes a rewrite." - Lex Hrabe , co-author of Quarantine: The Loners

"Personality always comes first for me, then I have to ask myself what they look like." - Victoria Scott, author of The Collector.

"They always come together and I am usually using a real person or conglomeration of people in my mind so its easy although the personality can change or grow as I write and become less and less like the original 'real' model in order to fit the story. Story comes first." -  Nora Raleigh Baskin, author of Surfacing.

"What characters are inside is by far the most important and interesting thing about them to me. I often have to remind myself to give them some physical features, but don’t like describing them completely. I’d rather readers form their own mind pictures from just a few clues." - Teri Terry, author of Slated

"It all sort of happens at the same time, though I think personality might form first and then I consider what sort of physicality I want to give that type of person. I try to err on the side of bucking stereotypes, for instance I wouldn’t make a “nerd” character who is scrawny with coke bottle glasses or what have you." - Jeff Sampson, author of  Ravage

"Personality comes before physicality. I feel the character's emotions, irritations and desires, and at some point I scour magazines, looking for a face that will match the personality I've imagined. Once I find it, I'll post that face over my writing desk and revise previously written scenes, adding physical details." - A.B. Westrick, author of Brotherhood

"Usually it's just them in their entirety from the beginning. BUT if anything changes it's their personality. I've never once changed the way someone looked, but I have changed personalities." - Molly McAdams, author of Taking Chances

"Personality first, usually, then physicality quickly afterward." - Stacey Kade, author of The Ghost & the Goth and The Rules

"The character approaches me through a fog. First emerges a general sense only of shape—how that character fits into the story in terms of role; then the face and voice become more distinct and I glimpse who I am dealing with; finally the hopes and fears, the quirks, the skills and the flaws all add color and definition as the more detailed personality reveals itself." - Liz Coley, author of Pretty Girl-13. 

"Definitely personality: a voice, a sorrow, a plan. The physicality of the character tends to come later in the story and often I'll write many chapters not knowing what someone looks like, which is okay. Other times, I know quickly some of the physical characteristics of my character. But it's the personality that defines the character for me and looks are modeled around that." - Kristin Halbrook, author of Nobody But Us. 

"For me, it’s like meeting a person. I take in as much of their looks and personality as I can when we’re first introduced, and I find out more the more time I spend with them." - Robyn Schneider, author of The Begining of Everything.

Find out Thursday what comes first when the rest of the authors create their characters.

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