Other characters need gentle prodding. I'll begin writing about them, telling their story but I'll be learning about them as I go. Some characters are just more private than others.
Characters, in my opinion, are not entitled to privacy.
I need to know all their secrets, hear about the skeletons in their closet. Their worries, fears, hopes, dreams and heck, even their dirty laundry is not off limits. It's only when I know them that I can understand them. When I understand them and where they're coming from I can tell their story.
I ask them lots of questions along the way. Sometimes, in the case of a particularly frustrating (read: tight-lipped) character I'll interview them. Just call me Barbara Walters. :)
Other times I'll ask them what they were doing a week before the story begins. Believe it or not, that backstory tells me a lot about a person. If the heroine was baby sitting her niece and nephew I imagine her in a different light than a woman who spent her free time at the office, catching up on work. Or hanging out with friends during happy hour. Or taking her dog for a run.
Those little details matter. All of those nuances make us who we are. Our values. Our morals. Our history. Our desires in this life...all ingredients that mix together to make a singular dish.
Anyway, that's how I develop characters. I either wait for them to talk to me or I interrogate them until they cry uncle. Writers, how do you develop your characters? Do you use character worksheets? Collages? Note cards? A program? I've even heard of writers using spreadsheets to organize character details!
Readers, who are some of your all time favorite characters and why?
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