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Thursday, May 2, 2013

More Author Insight: Creating Characters

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

"Personality never really surfaces in my characters until after I start writing them, which is why I do a lot of pre-writing. I know what a character's going to do long before I know how or even why." - Dan Wells, author of Fragments. 

"For me, I usually get a character with 'a problem.' I learn about personality and appearance from there. So with Fiona from Transparent, I knew she was invisible and that her father made her steal. Everything else came after that." - Natalie Whipple, author of Transparent

"Personality, definitely. I build their physical side based on that." - Page Morgan, author of The Beautiful and the Cursed

"My characters are often modeled on people I’ve met in real life or seen somewhere, so personality and physicality are shaped by what I’ve observed and noticed and carried with me and distorted in my memory. Then fiction takes over and builds the disguise even thicker. You may never know I’m writing about you, but haha, I am!" - Nova Ren Suma, author of 17 & Gone.

"A bit of both I think, though personality is more important. Most of my story ideas start with a person in a situation. Often a character feels fully formed, though only glimpsed – like somebody walking past you in the street. I form an immediate impression of what the person is like, but may struggle to come up with details. Those come once I start writing and get to know the character properly." - Dave Cousins, author of 15 Days Without a Head.

"It usually starts with smart ass remark, or a conversation with another character. After that they start to take shape physically." - Suzanne Young, author of The Program.

"If only a character would instantly form. You can sign me up for that anytime. Usually, the first thing I try to get a sense of is what this person WANTS, more than anything. What is his or her greatest desire? Everything else follows that." - Emma Carlson Berne, author of Never You Let Go

"The person comes through as a full entity, though their physical attributes are always less defined than their core personality." - Josin McQuein, author of Arclight

"I do a very extensive character study before I start a story, which includes physical as well as psychological and emotional traits. I have a ten-page template that I fill out in excruciating detail about my character and his life. But even then, I’m only about halfway there. The rest of the pieces fall into place as I write the story." - Scott Blagden, author of Dear Life, You Suck

"What? Some writers get complete people popping up on the page? Not fair.
The main character and important secondary characters almost always come with personality. I often don't focus on physicality until later drafts, unless it's something that defines personality." - Lindsey Leavitt, author of Going Vintage

"I rarely think of the physical characteristics when the character develops. I prefer to trust readers to see the character through their own eyes.   This drives editors nuts.  So I've learned to go back, after the first draft is finished, and put in physical traits.  This cockeyed method comes back to bite me, because I often have to change what that individual does, or is capable of doing, once I've got the physical clearly in mind." - Lois Ruby, author of Rebel Spirits

Come back next Tuesday to learn whether the authors lives have 
changed since they sold their books. 

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