Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Character Development, a Scrap of Honesty, a Beautiful Bouquet, and a Nobel Peace Prize

Natalie Whipple has a great post on character development on her blog. I gleaned a useful tool for fleshing out my characters from it. Natalie suggests asking your characters the following question:

What do you care about most in the world?

This doesn't need to be one thing, in fact I've already found the more things your character tells you they care about the better.

Like Natalie, I flesh out my characters as I go. I don't use an "Interview Sheet" like some writers do to get to know their characters or any other device other than simply writing. But, this one, simple question I found to be extremely helpful.

Here's a sample of what some of my characters told me matters to them:

MC: Family, boyfriend, everybody getting along.
MC's Boyfriend: Sports, family, girlfriend, sex.
MC's Best Friend (BF): Family, boyfriend, being thin, being MC's BFF, getting good grades.
MC's Other BF: Being popular, looking good, MC's boyfriend (uh-oh!), family, friends.
MC's Male BF: Protecting MC, humor, his sexuality, people playing by "the rules."
MC's Ex Boyfriend: Being in control, getting drunk, sports, bugging the crap out of people, family (ha!).

These things didn't surprise me, but it was helpful to have them clarified. I feel closer to my characters now; more sure of their behaviors.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. What tricks of the trade do you use to help you get to know your characters better? Do the "real" people in your life think you're crazy for "talking" to the slightly "less than real" people in your life?

IN OTHER NEWS:
Blog Bling! Ca-Ching, Ca-Ching!

Thanks to Lisa Desrochers and Julie Nelson for a couple of awesome awards. Since I'm deep into edits now, I'm going to pass on the "proper" way of doling out these awards, however, if you feel like one (or both!) of these awards calls to you, please take it/them with my best wishes and refer to Lisa and Julie's blogs for the "proper" way to forward them along. I'd hand them out to all of my followers if I could, but I'd have to give up my writing career in order to do that. (Very time consuming!)

So, here they are. (Drum roll, please!)

From Lisa Desrochers from Personal Demons, the HONEST SCRAP award! WOOHOO!! I'm supposed to tell you something honest about myself that you may not know, so here goes...

I realize I may lose some followers for this true confession, but... I don't like coffee. I don't even like the smell of coffee. There, I said it. I know, it's shocking but true. Please try to forgive me and remember we're each separate yet special snowflakes, and this particular snowflake hates coffee. (This snowflake does, however, love Starbucks chai tea latte w/cinnamon & chocolate!)

Next up is the FROM ME TO YOU BOUQUET from Julie Nelson of Literary Jules fame. For this award, I must tell you something you probably don't know about me.

Okay, for those of you who are left after learning I'm a coffee-hating freak and fell for that whole snowflake thing, here's a juicy little tidbit: My grandmother's first cousin, Isidor Isaac Rabi, won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1944. Them there are some smart genes in my family! I know you're thinking exactly what I'm thinking: too bad they skipped me!

So, there you have it. Character Development, a Scrap of Honesty, a Beautiful Bouquet, and a Nobel Peace Prize all in one post. Wow!

34 comments:

Ruthanne Reid said...

I actually have a few highly trusted beta-readers with whom I'll sort of try out characters in the setting of a scenario, text-based. It's sort of like role-play via IM, and it's very telling. The characters react to circumstances and stimuli in very different ways, often tipping me off to just what is happening in their heads.

Mireyah Wolfe said...

Aw, don't feel bad. I don't like coffee either. (The smell, yeah, the taste, no.) In substitute, I drink Lukewarm French Cappuccino. :-D

Congrats on the Awards!!xD

DebraLSchubert said...

Ruthanne, Wow, that's amazing! What a great idea. Thanks for sharing it. ;-)

DebraLSchubert said...

Mireyah, Like you, the folks I know who don't like coffee still like the smell of it. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in an altered reality where everyone likes something I don't. (Hmm, sounds like a good book idea!)

koralee said...

Congratulations on your awards..and that is an interesting fact about your familly having a Nobel Peace Prize winner in it. Hope all is going well in your busy life.

DebraLSchubert said...

Koralee, Thanks for stopping by! Yes, but you know how fickle DNA can be... ;-)

Angela Corbett said...

You know those silly question lists you get from friends asking your favorite color, place to travel, dumbest thing you've ever done? I fill out one of those for each of my characters. It's similar to the interview questions other authors use, but the question lists make me answer more as a teen would and help me get into the head of my characters.

mo.stoneskin said...

If your after some fantastic characters I'll take you down some of the local pubs...seriously they are the best places for gleaning traits and humour.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Good luck with your edits!

My sister feels the same way about coffee that you do....and I'm completely addicted to it!

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

DebraLSchubert said...

Angela, Brilliant! Finally a good reason for those ridiculous, I mean WAY interesting questions! What a smart way to use something that seems, well, useless! ;-)

DebraLSchubert said...

mo, Seriously? You hang out at pubs? I'm shocked! Okay, I'm lying. I'm not at all surprised.

Great point though - people watching (and listening!) in bars, restaurants, airports, etc. is a great way to enhance or find interesting characters.

Amy Sue Nathan said...

You don't like the smell of coffee? Ok then, when we meet I will have to drink wine.

Anything for you. ;)

DebraLSchubert said...

Elizabeth, Thanks, I'll need it (luck, that is!). My husband, parents, and so many other people in my life are addicted right along with you. Your sister and I are SO in the minority on this one! (Give her a "no coffee!" fist bump for me!) ;-)

DebraLSchubert said...

Amy, That's what I love about you. You're so willing to give one up for the team! ;-)

Karen Walker said...

I don't drink coffee either, Debra. But there's no Nobel-prize-winning anybody in my family tree. Wow!
karen

Sybir St. John said...

In complete agreement about the whole coffee thing. I can tolerate the smell finally, but try to avoid it if at all possible.

Character Development - I use a quick table that helps me flesh them out after they've appeared in my head and been talking to me for a while. I'm going to add in that question though because I think it will keep everything in line across the books!

Fun thing with those awards, and VERY COOL to have a Nobel Prize winner in the family! I just have mob stories ;)

DebraLSchubert said...

Karen, Having a Nobel Prize winner in the family does make for a great story, and really, isn't that what we're mainly talking about here?

DebraLSchubert said...

Sybir, Love your table idea and glad you agree about the coffee.

I had a hit man for the mob living next door when I grew up. I got his wife (who we called The Witch Lady) mad one day and she sent her psycho husband after me to chase me out of a tree. Turns out, his uncle was one of the main Godfathers in NYC. ;-)

Voidwalker said...

Haha, no coffee love huh? Well, I'm write there with ya (Yeah I used a write/right switch... clever huh lol j/k)

ANYWAY

I'll still follow you. I'm a Dr. Pepper Junkie, so I can't judge, but I DO love the smell of coffee despite the nasty taste.

DebraLSchubert said...

Void, I love me my Dr. Pepper, but it has to be diet. Nice twist on the write/right thing, btw.

writtenwyrdd said...

I also tend to ask myself as I'm writing how my character's main focus affects their choices in the scene I'm writing. It generally gives me some internal conflict or steers the writing a bit more confidently at the very least.

DebraLSchubert said...

WW, I like your idea of the character's focus sparking conflict, since conflict drives the story. I sense the subject of character development could be analyzed until the end of time and never be fully understood. I guess the same can be said for our own personal character development!

Cassandra Frear said...

You don't like coffee? Say it ain't true!

Okay. I won't try to convert you. At least, not on your blog.

DebraLSchubert said...

Cassandra, Believe me, going through life like this has not been easy. There must be something terribly wrong with me. But, you know what? It shows up in my world as something that's wrong with everyone else. Hah!

Jody Hedlund said...

Oh, I think you have a scrap of genius in you too, Debra! Hope your keeping your head above water with your edits. I feel for you! Been there! ;-)

DebraLSchubert said...

Jody, A scrap would be nice... I'm following in your illustrious footsteps, so don't think I won't be asking for advice! ;-)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I saw your award at Literary Jules and came by to say hi! Great blog! :)

DebraLSchubert said...

Shannon, Thanks so much for stopping by! Julie's my BFF - I'm so glad you've found her. ;-)

Broke But Still Drinking said...

Next you'll be telling us you don't like pizza. Just when you think you know somebody.

DebraLSchubert said...

BBSD, HAH! I love pizza! But only vegetarian, I'm sure that will ruffle your feathers. How are things in the frigid part of the state, btw?

Jill Kemerer said...

Congrats on the awards! And the NPP runs in your family, huh? Maybe next year, right? :)

DebraLSchubert said...

Jill, Thanks, and yeah - my Nobel Prize will be for being the biggest idiot this side of the Mississippi. There's quite a competition (or so I hear)!!

Lisa Dez said...

I've had a big week--lots of exciting news which I will post next week--so I'm just getting caught up on my blog reading. I like your approach to character development. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants and let them evolve on the pages. Sometimes that gets me into trouble.

Congrats on your awards!

DebraLSchubert said...

Lisa, OOOOH! I'm so excited to hear your news! And, thank you so much for the wonderful Honest Scrap award. I greatly appreciate it. ;-)

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