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December 21, 2012 / diannegray

Put some flesh on the bones of my dreams

I stole borrowed this line from David Gray’s song Flesh because it’s close to one of my favourite lyrics of all time. I’ve started writing two new novels so now it’s time to add flesh to the bones of my characters. Several years ago an editor told me she loved one of my manuscripts – BUT I had cookie-cutter characters that moved stiffly across the chessboard of the story.  Woah! Even though I take criticism well, it took me a few days to digest this! I thanked her kindly for her comments, threw my characters back in the bowl, mixed them around, cut them out again and baked them until the were golden brown. Edible chess It doesn’t matter how good your story is, if people can’t relate to the characters and care about what happens to them (no matter how wonderful or nasty they are) you’ve lost your reader at the first page. One way I add the flesh is to sit down with a friend and tell them the name of my character, their age, sex and the situation they are in. I then throw it them to question me as if I am the character (done in the evening with a glass of wine helps!) Don’t worry, my voice doesn’t change and I don’t grow a mustache for this exercise, but I do have to dig deep to find information.

BTW – This isn’t me

 photo courtesy of - elliottsfancydress.co.uk

photo courtesy of – elliottsfancydress.co.uk

It’s amazing what you don’t know about your characters until you do this. Everyone asks different questions. It’s almost like you’ve met this person in a bar or coffee shop and suddenly start telling them your character’s entire life story. I don’t know what their questions will be and it’s best not to know. Having said that, they should go something along these lines: Where were you born? Do you have any siblings? Where do you work? What previous jobs have you had? Favourite food? Favourite song? First time you were hurt? Ever been in love? Greatest fear? Tell me more about why you have this fear? Happiest time of your life? And the list goes on and on… I can’t answer these questions about my characters unless I know them intimately. If I get to the point where I get stuck (like – where was your mother born or how old were you when you had your first kiss?) I usually say something like, “Do’h! I don’t know!”  And I then know I haven’t added all the ingredients to hold that character together. It’s not as if the answers are going to be used in the story, but by the time my characters enter the story they are fully fleshed – I know them and my readers know them (even without the background information). It’s a handy little trick. Do you have other ways to flesh out characters? Vikki (The View Outside) recently wrote an insightful post about characters. So if this subject interests you, you can stop over at her site and take a look. Today I’m heading off on the big drive again and will be returning to the farm in about a fortnight after another big drive. What a life! I wish you all a wonderful, safe and creative Christmas and New Year.

130 Comments

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  1. Polysyllabic Profundities / Dec 21 2012 1:29 pm

    Once again….very nourishing food for thought. Merry Christmas to you and your family…..can’t wait to read those two new books!! :)

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 6:16 am

      Thank you, Susan! I love ‘food for thought!’ ;D

      Like

  2. Tarina / Dec 21 2012 1:46 pm

    Very interesting. I feel like I need to get to know my characters quite a lot better now!! On another note: I really want to eat that chessboard… :D

    Like

  3. lindahoyland / Dec 21 2012 1:53 pm

    I sometimes have asked people to ask my original characters questions on my LJ.It’s a great idea.Wishing you a very Happy Christmas.

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    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 6:18 am

      It’s great way to get to know them. Linda.

      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas as well! :D

      Like

  4. Carrie Rubin / Dec 21 2012 2:03 pm

    I recently read a book where the story line was good and the prose pretty decent, but the characters were so bland, I just didn’t care what happened.

    When writing thrillers–which is the genre I prefer–it can be difficult to find the right balance between keeping the plot moving and building up the characters enough so the reader cares. I find I can create full character sketches before I begin writing, but I have to remember to include these humanizing elements while writing the action scenes required of a thriller.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 6:23 am

      It can be disappointing, Carrie, when the story is good but the characters just don’t do it for you.

      In my previous job I worked with people who would sketch characters and build life sized versions of them (this was for a government department to understand ‘clients’ and not novel writing) and I thought this was pretty cool :D

      Like

      • Carrie Rubin / Dec 22 2012 6:25 am

        Now I’m imagining life-sized versions of my characters in my den with me…

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      • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 7:29 am

        LOL – that would be scary! We actually had a fellow come into the office one day who hadn’t been there before and he said hello to one of the dummies! (that said volumes about the personalities of the rest of us sitting there! :D

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      • Carrie Rubin / Dec 22 2012 8:29 am

        Haha. That one gave me a good laugh-out-loud. :)

        Like

  5. Anna Scott Graham / Dec 21 2012 2:05 pm

    I talk out scenes that may or may not be in a book, but mostly it’s dialogue to get to better know my characters. (I’ve warned my family that if they find me talking to myself, that’s all I’m really doing.) I find that so helpful, plus I come up with a plot twist or two.

    Have such a happy Christmas, a beautiful New Year, and a very safe big drive. So lovely to ‘meet’ you this year Dianne! :)

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    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 6:27 am

      I love this! I’m always talking out loud when i’m writing and if I’m caught I just pretend I’m talking to the dogs! :D

      Have a wonderful Christmas, Anna – it’s been an absolute pleasure getting to know you and reading your amazing stories :D

      Like

  6. agjorgenson / Dec 21 2012 2:25 pm

    Thanks for this. it is good to remember that oftentimes good comes from well meant criticism, and a still greater good when those learnings are shared! Merry Christmas to you as well!

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 6:36 am

      I like critiques for this very reason. At first they can hit you in the solar plexus, but once you absorb it, it can really improve your writing ;)

      Like

  7. 1girl4adamwest / Dec 21 2012 2:29 pm

    This sounds challenging but, you can do it!!! Merry Christmas!

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  8. Kozo / Dec 21 2012 2:32 pm

    Great tip, Dianne. I don’t think my family are going to like your suggestion since I am going to corner them at Christmas dinner and have them question me about all the characters in my novel. Lucky thing you live in Oz, cuz some of my family hold grudges for years.
    If I don’t talk to you before the 25th, have a safe drive and a wonderful Christmas. {{{Hugs}}}

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    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 6:41 am

      Thank you, my dear! As I just commented on your post, I’ve got limited reception at the moment. We’re on a road called the Marlborough Strait which goes for hours and hours – there are some absolute idiots on the road, but you have to expect that at this time of year. I really don’t know how some people get their license or maybe they’re just driving tired… 8O

      Like

  9. MishaBurnett / Dec 21 2012 2:36 pm

    I tend to have way more background information about my characters than I ever use because when I’m stuck for the main plot (which is often) I noodle around with the people.

    On an unrelated note, where can I get that cool chess cookie cutter set?

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 6:44 am

      LOL! I love he cookie chess set as well!

      You can never have too much background on your characters because, as you say, you can noodle around with them ;)

      Like

      • MishaBurnett / Dec 23 2012 4:41 am

        I was just thinking, actually, of one of my minor characters.

        His name is Stuart Dogs, he’s from Oklahoma City originally, his family owns a chain of laundromats, he went to school for three semesters at Harvard and flunked out, finished his degree and went on to get a law degree from Washington University in St. Louis, which is where he still practices, is an avid fisherman, is working with a non-profit organization to get fishing recognized as a NCAA sport, is currently single and considering dating one of my other minor characters, is of Cherokee ancestry but grew up basically middle class Anglo and only started acting “Native American” in college because it impressed girls (c.f. “flunking out of Harvard”) and is the on staff legal counsel for the commercial real estate firm that my main characters own and operate.

        Now, keep in mind that this Stuart has yet to have a single line of dialogue in the book. In fact, he is referred to a total of twice in the text so far. The odds are pretty good that I’ll never actually have him “onscreen” in the book at all.

        I just thought to myself, “What kind of lawyer would Godiva and James have?” and the rest just kind of happened. That’s one of the reasons my daily word count tends to be so abysmal–I get sidetracked easily.

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      • diannegray / Dec 23 2012 6:00 am

        This is amazing. I hope someone reads this who thinks writing is ‘easy’ ;

        Like

  10. ocdreader / Dec 21 2012 2:45 pm

    that is an awesome and a fantastic idea. Difficult in a way, but fun too. Do you do this for the main protags mostly or do you flesh out your side characters like that as well?

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 6:46 am

      I should have explained that, Elisa – only my main characters. I think I’d have no friends left to play the game if I did this with every character! ;)

      Like

  11. donnajeanmcdunn / Dec 21 2012 2:59 pm

    Loved this Dianne. I do something similar, but maybe not so extensive, but you gave me a couple more questions my characters will have to answer now. I think it is important to flesh them out too, because as you write, the characters’ back grounds helps determine how they are going to react to certain situations. I do this even when I add a character who only has a very small part in the story, like a clerk in a store or someone the pov character meets on the street. It makes them real. I only use a fraction of the stuff I learn about my characters, but many times I have to add things to their profiles as I write. Drive safely and have a wonderful holiday.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 6:51 am

      You’re so right about the characters’ back grounds helping to determine how they are going to react to certain situations. Keeping them consistent and ‘true to themselves’ is so important to the story ;)

      Thank you so much for the holiday wishes – I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing and creative time as well! :D

      Like

  12. Amanda / Dec 21 2012 3:14 pm

    I love this Dianne! I love practical tips like this and coincidentally I’ve just started creating my characters in my mind after FINALLY settling on a book idea! I might get Andy to do this with me :)

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 6:53 am

      Woo hoo! Hubby’s get really good at this and it’s kind of a fun game on a night when nothing much else is happening ;)

      Congratulations on the book idea – I’m wrapped! ;)

      Like

  13. artfulanxiety / Dec 21 2012 3:23 pm

    I’ve been struggling a little to write song lyrics at the moment, so I’m going to try your idea with that. Thanks for the post! Happy New Year to you too!

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 6:53 am

      Great idea! I hadn’t thought of that before. Best of luck ;)

      Like

  14. Lonely Daffodil / Dec 21 2012 3:52 pm

    Very interesting! Thank you for sharing this :) Happy Holidays!

    Like

  15. the eternal traveller / Dec 21 2012 4:12 pm

    I have just today finished reading The Everything Theory and I loved it. Your characters were very believable so you did your homework there. Well done Dianne and I’m looking forward to reading more of your novels.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 6:55 am

      I’m so glad you liked it! I love comments like this – you’ve just made my day :D

      Like

  16. Char / Dec 21 2012 4:55 pm

    That Q/A session about a character with a friend could get quite silly sometimes, I’d think. But I like the idea a lot.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 6:56 am

      LOL! I could get silly, but I guess that’s half the fun ;)

      Like

  17. lacunakittie / Dec 21 2012 5:05 pm

    You really are a genius. How to you get motivated to write? I need to get back into the habit of writing. I may use this format of yours to write a poem of some sorts. Now, if only I can remember to do it.

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    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 6:58 am

      Thank you, my dear ;) I’m not sure what motivates me to write, but whatever it is, it drives me half nuts sometimes :D

      Your poetry is beautiful and it’s the quality that counts more than the quantity ;)

      Like

  18. justinwriter / Dec 21 2012 5:36 pm

    I’ve been through a similar roleplaying exercise before and it’s a lot of fun. I like to write a mini biography for each main character. This way if something shifts unexpectedly later on, I’ll know how my characters will react to anything from sudden death to a dropped ice cream.

    Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. Thanks for brightening my year. :)

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 7:00 am

      Thank you, Justin! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, knowing I’ve somehow brightened your year ;)

      Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year! :D

      Like

  19. ramblingsfromamum / Dec 21 2012 5:57 pm

    Scary proposition you put forth – but logical :-) I sometimes get stuck on characters but I have no problems with writing poetry off the top of my head, that seems to come easier. I really should get stuck into my book – but I don’t have the urge in me at the moment :-(
    I wish you and yours a beautiful Christmas Di, I want to thank you for following me and the lovely comments you make. I look forward to seeing you in the New Year. Enjoy the farm (build that bathroom) and take care. :-) xxxx

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 7:04 am

      LOL! I’ve got some great ideas for the bathroom (thanks to you) ;)
      Don’t force the writing, it’ll come all in good time.

      Have a wonderful, safe and happy Christmas my darling :D

      Like

  20. Vikki (The View Outside) / Dec 21 2012 6:57 pm

    Thanks for the shout out Dianne :)

    Have a safe journey honey! MERRY CHRISTMAS :)

    Xxx

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    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 7:06 am

      Thank you, Vikki. I’m currently dodging the trucks!

      Merry Christmas to you too :D

      Like

  21. Roy McCarthy / Dec 21 2012 7:06 pm

    Excellent advice Dianne. Happy Christmas to you and your family.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 7:08 am

      Thank you, Roy ;) Every little bit of advice counts when we’re struggling through our stories :D

      Have a wonderful Christmas!

      Like

  22. cashbackmonster / Dec 21 2012 8:28 pm

    Awesome post! My writing mentor does this to me – interviews my main characters – and at first i thought it was a harmless little exercise, but the benefits really are exponential! i always do a profile and other little exercises first and by then i think i know my characters pretty well, but doing the interview after all that, really really helps the most! thanks Dianne, and merry christmas!!! :D

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 7:10 am

      I’m so glad your writing mentor does this – wonderful! :D

      Have a great Christmas – and give your writing mentor a hug for me ;)

      Like

  23. bluebee / Dec 21 2012 8:36 pm

    Love the idea of sitting down with a friend and being interrogated as a character – I might try and turn it around the other way :-)

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 7:11 am

      Good idea! Best of luck and have a wonderful Christmas ;)

      Like

  24. Anna Belfrage / Dec 21 2012 9:42 pm

    i Dianne,

    What a good idea to have someone interview your character In my case, I live with the characters for a very long time before actually committing anything to paper. I make sure I have their back-stories right, I draw up complicated family trees, I have huge fun deciding on their names, on whether they like smoked fish, tobacco, gravel paths, roses or elderberry wine.

    Anna

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    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 7:14 am

      Love it, Anna! They become so real that it gets hard to put them into situations that test them to the limit or (god forbid) kill them off! We get to know them SO well and this is half the fun :D

      Like

  25. Anna Belfrage / Dec 21 2012 9:43 pm

    It should say Hi not i … butter fingers :)

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    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 7:14 am

      :D – don’t worry, I do that all the time…

      Like

  26. Britt Skrabanek / Dec 22 2012 12:25 am

    Love this! I’m very into the family and childhood back stories of my characters and how influential this is on a person’s entire life. Sure, we grow and change. But when it comes down to it…we are inexplicably linked to our pasts and to our blood.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 7:16 am

      So true, Britt. The better we know them, the more ‘life’ they have and this includes their childhood and fears and loves;)

      Have a wonderful Christmas! :D

      Like

  27. mcwoman / Dec 22 2012 2:32 am

    Diane – What an wonderful idea to flesh out the finer elements of a character. I’m going to try it. Usually I just try to write a character sketch, but this is SOOOO much better. Thanks for the insight.
    Have a wonderful Christmas, and just tell me one thing — what is a fortnight? :-)

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 7:20 am

      Please do try it, Barbara – it’s well worth it (and can be fun at times) ;)

      You have a wonderful Christmas as well :D

      A fortnight is two weeks (maybe I spelled it wrong) 8O

      Like

  28. Janna G. Noelle / Dec 22 2012 3:59 am

    I love this exercise, Dianne. I usually use a character resume sheet that includes many of the questions you posed above, but also speaking it out loud with a friend sounds like good fun. More in line with how my characters come to start speaking/acting through me while I’m writing as well, once I’ve spent enough time with them.

    I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, Dianne, and look forward to reading more of your thoughts and insights in 2013. :)

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 7:25 am

      Thank you, Janna. It’s interesting to read the comments here to see how many different ways writers develop their characters. I don’t have a resume sheet, but I’m going to try that as well now ;)

      Thank you for the Christmas wishes. You have a wonderful time as well. It’s been a pleasure following your blog this year and I’m looking forward to more of the same next year as well! :D

      Like

  29. avwalters / Dec 22 2012 6:24 am

    Fleshing out characters is a winter activity, usually done in front of the fire, maybe a glass of wine and certainly over a game of Scrabble.

    Like

  30. Hazy Shades of Me / Dec 22 2012 6:54 am

    Excellent and helpful post. A happy and SAFE holiday to you and yours as well!!

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 7:30 am

      Thank you so much, my dear – the safety aspect is paramount in my mind at the moment! ;)

      Like

  31. jmmcdowell / Dec 22 2012 7:12 am

    This sounds like an excellent idea—especially over a glass of wine in the evening! Some characters are easier for me to flesh out than others. And none like to share the “warts” and “embarrassments” of their pasts. But those are exactly the types of things we need to at least glimpse if a character is going to pique our interest and hold it through a book. I’ll have to try this one!

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 7:34 am

      It really is a great exercise because we may ‘think’ we know our characters, but until we know them like our best friend it’s hard to put them into situations and understand how they will react.

      Warts and all is good – my characters will fight tooth and nail not to reveal their weaknesses so I love drawing them out (I’m so mean sometimes!) ;)

      Like

  32. jannatwrites / Dec 22 2012 4:03 pm

    That’s a fun idea. I’m not great at character development. My tendency is to think of a story line and place people in the needed character slots. On a novel I was working on, I took online personality tests as each of the characters. Based on the personality test results, I could figure out if they were the type to try new things or order the same dish at every visit to a restaurant. Time consuming, yes…but it made ma pay more attention to my characters than I ever did.

    Hope you have a great Christmas and a happy New Year!

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 23 2012 5:50 am

      That’s a fantastic idea, Janna! It’s so good to see all the different ways we develop our characters. If I do a follow up on this post do you mind if I mention your idea? I’ll link to your page:)
      Have a wonderful Christmas :D

      Like

      • jannatwrites / Dec 24 2012 4:24 pm

        I don’t mind at all if you share it. The idea actually came from a writing class I took a couple years ago :)

        Like

  33. pommepal / Dec 22 2012 6:23 pm

    What a great idea could almost be a party game along the lines of charades…
    Don’t know if you are going to be able to sit in front of a fire up north!!!
    Have a lovely time over Christmas and I look forward to more of your posts next year

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 23 2012 5:54 am

      Thank you my dear ! What a wonderful idea ;) I’m still on the road (heading past the Gold Coast now) the traffic was a nightmare yesterday and I don’t think it’ll be much better today :(

      Have a wonderful Christmas! :D

      Like

      • pommepal / Dec 23 2012 10:06 am

        Drive carefully and arrive safely, traffic is a nightmare at this time of the year.

        Like

      • diannegray / Dec 24 2012 6:06 am

        I’m glad we were heading south and not north. Kempsey was a nightmare for those heading north! 8O

        Like

  34. harulawordsthatserve / Dec 23 2012 1:44 am

    I’ve not done this yet – but have considered it – thanks for the encouragement! A few times I’ve taken a character on an outing. Basically I go (alone) somewhere I think the character would have a response to, and then during my time there I ask myself now and again, what would so and so do/think/say now? It’s quite fun:-)

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 23 2012 5:56 am

      I love this idea! If I do a follow-up post is it okay if I mention this? I’ll link to your blog :D

      Like

  35. Maddie Cochere / Dec 24 2012 6:49 am

    Great idea, Dianne. My husband and I will have this chat soon. … I’m curious about “The Big Drive.” You said it would take five to six days, yet here in the states we would make that in two or three days. Is it road condition? Speed limits? Just taking it easy and safe? … Have a wonderful Christmas visit when you get there, and be safe heading back home to the farm!

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 25 2012 6:49 am

      We made it in three days ;) Sometimes we stop over and visit people but this time we didn’t because the traffic just got worse the further we went and we just wanted to ‘get here’. When there wasn’t thousands of people on the road we had severe whether with wind rain and hail (oh joy!)

      But we’re here now and will be heading back in a few day with our dogs (I really hope they enjoy the drive!) :D

      Like

  36. eof737 / Dec 24 2012 1:20 pm

    Thank you for this great post and insights on character development… I can’t help but wonder: what if we don’t have someone to bounce it off of then what? Just curious… TY! :-)

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 25 2012 7:00 am

      Some people have said they write a resume for their characters and others go on an outing and take their characters with them. I really like these ideas and will probably do a follow-up post ;D

      Like

  37. eof737 / Dec 24 2012 1:20 pm

    ¸.•*¨*•.♪♫♫♪ :lol: Happy Holidays to You & Yours! :lol: .♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸ ♥
    ˜”*°•.˜”*°•.˜”*°•.★★.•°*”˜.•°*”˜.•°*”˜” ♥ ˜”*°•.˜”*°•.˜”*°•.★★.•°*”˜.•°*”˜.•°*”˜”
    Eliz

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 25 2012 7:01 am

      Happy Holidays to you too! I hope you’re having a wonderful time. I always love the way you sing to me! :D

      Like

  38. The Bumble Files / Dec 25 2012 8:48 am

    Great ideas, Dianne. I think about fleshing out characters alone and with paper and pen. But, I like this idea better…with a friend and glass of wine! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you! Be safe driving :)

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 26 2012 7:42 am

      It can be a lot of fun! ;) And when you get bored with that you’ve still got some wine left in the bottle and a friend to chat with :D

      Like

  39. Crazy irish Poet / Dec 26 2012 4:53 am

    Loved the blog, very honest,, made me feel normal, as I sometimes feel strange discussing characters with my friends willing them to be almost like interrogators until they get all the secret background of the character out of me..

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 26 2012 7:46 am

      I love it when I see other people do crazy things with their writing. One of the commenters said they take their character on a day trip and talk to them as if they are a real person (silently of course)!

      Thank you so much for stopping by to say hello! :D

      Like

  40. 1EarthUnited / Dec 27 2012 6:15 am

    Really helpful post Dianne, I’ll be forwarding this fleshy info to my writer friends. Take care!

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 27 2012 6:34 am

      That’s great – every little thing we can learn about writing and our characters is a good thing :D

      Like

  41. Jacqui Murray / Dec 28 2012 3:04 am

    Where did you ever find that chessboard picture? I’ve been scared away from all image sites excite the most open and public domains. I’ve seen nothing as creative as that.

    Oh–great article!

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 28 2012 6:54 am

      It was on about 4 or 5 cooking sites so I couldn’t find the ‘real’ owner (which sometimes happens so I never know who to credit).

      So glad you liked the post :D

      Like

  42. Adam S / Dec 28 2012 3:39 pm

    I absolutely love developing characters. Getting into a character and speaking through them, I think, takes a lot of practice. After some time though, it just becomes second nature. Sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy. I feel what my characters feel. To me, it’s just like being an actor. I always think of Heath Ledger as the Joker. It’s gotta be that deep for me — that’s the bar that’s been set. If you’re not familiar with the backstory, read up on it. It’s fascinating.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 29 2012 7:12 am

      I understand the ‘going crazy’ feeling, Adam. I sometimes have my characters come to me in dreams and tell me they don’t like what I’m doing with them – or that they don’t like cream with their coffee so can I have them drink black tea instead, etc! Yes – people think I’m nuts when I tell them that. One thing I hate doing is killing off a character – it’s like baking a beautiful cake and then throwing it in the dirt ;)

      I’ll have to look at the Heath Ledger backstory – sounds fascinating :D

      Like

      • Adam S / Dec 29 2012 9:56 am

        That’s so awesome. I haven’t had that happen…yet.

        Killing a character is like killing a part of you. I can relate.

        Like

  43. audiophileparadise / Dec 29 2012 3:31 am

    Again, amazing post! It really got me thinking – Maybe the characteristics of the characters (Talk about repetition! :P) in a story should be revealed slowly, so that the reader is kept on the edge; but not so slowly that he loses interest. Your post flashed a book in my mind – It’s called ‘The Immortals of Meluha’. According to me, it is the best book written by an Indian author (Name – Amish). Go check it out! Maybe you’ll like it :D

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 29 2012 7:14 am

      I love Indian authors – they have such a beautiful grasp of the English language. I’m definitely checking out Amish now :D

      Like

  44. Linda Vernon / Dec 29 2012 4:47 am

    Now you have to have a character in your book who is so polite he will greet dummies! HA! And I love Janna’s idea of character personality tests of each character! Hope you are having an wonderful and safe trip, Dianne. :D

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 29 2012 7:17 am

      That’s a great idea about the character who greets dummies! It says so much about the person in so few words :D

      Some of the responses here are amazing and I love Janna’s idea.

      We’re heading back to the farm tomorrow with the dogs in the car. They haven’t traveled before and the driving time is about 34 hours – so that should be fun! 8O

      Like

      • Linda Vernon / Dec 30 2012 5:50 am

        Oh my gosh! A 34 hour drive with your dogs in the car! I hope they aren’t the car sick types. Well I guess you’ll find out. What an adventure that will be Dianne. Oh I can’t wait to read about it on your blog! :D

        Like

      • diannegray / Jan 1 2013 7:25 am

        Oh, Linda – it’s been such an experience! We went the ‘outback’ way because it’s quicker, but I’ve never seen so many trucks and animals on the road (cows, pigs, sheep, dingos, kangaroos, emus, rabbits). The dogs were great until we got caught in a monsoonal storm and we couldn’t stop to let them out to do their business. Unfortunately my German Shepherd decided this was good time get diarrhea! 8O

        Like

      • Linda Vernon / Jan 2 2013 3:11 pm

        Oh Dianne! The absolute WORST scenario! Oh what a trip that must have been. I hope you all made it home safely in the storm. But will you be out shopping for a new car now?This is going to make a fascinating post Diane once you’ve fully recovered that is. I hope you doggie’s okay now! :D

        Like

      • diannegray / Jan 2 2013 5:30 pm

        Apart from being highly embarrassed, he’s fine :D

        Like

      • Linda Vernon / Jan 3 2013 2:47 am

        Haha! Yes I bet he is! :D

        Like

  45. maggiemyklebust / Jan 1 2013 12:44 am

    Its true. If I don’t remember the characters, I don’t remember the book. It’s the characters that make a story great in my opinion.
    Happy New Year, Dianne!

    Like

  46. cocoaupnorth / Jan 1 2013 12:44 am

    Great post Dianne. Hope you are having a lovely drive, should be interesting to read how the dogs managed the long drive:-)

    Like

    • diannegray / Jan 1 2013 7:31 am

      The dogs were great until we got caught in a monsoonal storm and couldn’t let them out to do their business. At this point my German Shepherd decided it was a great time to get diarrhoea!

      Like

  47. adinparadise / Jan 1 2013 9:20 am

    Happy New year to you, Dianne. I have yet to read one of your books, but Santa bought me a kindle, so I will be able to download one, just as soon as I’ve learned how to use it. :) xx

    Like

    • diannegray / Jan 1 2013 3:19 pm

      You must have been very good all year for Santa to bring you a kindle! :) I don’t have one (and I don’t have a technical bone in my body) so I can’t offer you any tips, unfortunately. I really hope at least one of my stories makes it onto that cute little machine! :D Enjoy!

      Like

  48. Denise Hisey / Jan 2 2013 2:28 am

    Now that’s an evening discussion that could get very interesting! LOL
    Great ideas, Dianne! I love it!

    Like

  49. Jonathan Caswell / Jan 3 2013 2:38 pm

    I like your idea of character development. If I ever write another book (other than poetry), I’ll keep you in mind. Thank you, also for visiting bythemightymumford.wordpress.com, AND LEAVING YOUR “MARK”! Please come back anytime! —Jonathan Caswell

    Like

    • diannegray / Jan 3 2013 4:33 pm

      I’ll certainly be back very soon, Jonathan :D

      Thank you so much for coming by and for the wonderful comment ;)

      Like

  50. Jonathan Caswell / Jan 3 2013 2:42 pm

    P.S.—My one book is, via the E-reader edition at Amazon.com: SPIRIT-LED LIMERICKS AND OTHER CHRISTIAN POETRY, by Jonathan Caswell…about $9.00 American, in cost. Softcovers are close to $19-20, American (haven’t sold many…but I have the E-version on a Cloud Reader for my P.C.

    Like

  51. Jonathan Caswell / Jan 3 2013 2:45 pm

    Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT—EVEN FOR POETS :) !—Jonathan

    Like

  52. 4amWriter / Jan 6 2013 9:30 pm

    I apologize for reading your posts in backwards order! I’m so behind on blogging with the holidays. Anywho, this is good stuff, Dianne. Character development is one of my favorite parts of creative writing. When I teach kids creative writing, I have them pretend they are their own protags and question each other in order to help them flesh out their heroes and villains. This helps them realize that even villains have a soft side too, which is harder for kids to understand as most villains they read about are very ‘cookie cutter’ and one-dimensional.

    Like

    • diannegray / Jan 7 2013 6:43 am

      I’m so glad you do this – it’s a fabulous idea! I really don’t like villains that are one-dimensional, it just seems like they’ve been put there as a convenience to the writer (and no one is THAT evil all the time). This annoyed in in movies as well, when the baddie is just so bad they’re completely unbelievable.

      Keep us the great work with those kids!

      Like

    • diannegray / Jan 7 2013 6:45 am

      Keep *up* the great work… lol ;)

      Like

  53. realityenchanted / Jan 12 2013 4:11 am

    This is very informative. I confess I am quite wretched in this regard. I don’t pay befitting attention to my characters.
    Thanks for this useful piece. For my posts you liked and/or commented on, I assume it wasn’t for the character deveopment. Can I plead with you to be a little more critical next time before you pat me on the back?
    Thanks for sharing this.

    Like

    • diannegray / Jan 12 2013 6:44 am

      I will be more critical in the future, if it doesn’t worry you ;)

      I’m so glad you liked this post and I hope it helps! :D

      Like

      • realityenchanted / Jan 12 2013 9:17 pm

        I asked for it!!!

        Of course, it did help, else I wouldn’t have commented favourably.

        Like

  54. Spider42 / Jan 12 2013 6:20 pm

    Damn! That is some excellent advice!
    I’ve done similar things with some of my writing and not always with the characters but never thought about it much till now – it was always just me and a couple of the folks who I know will make good conversation and make me think and I’d create a kind of sounding board effect.
    Think I’ll do this for some of the harder characters more now. Great idea.
    Cheers! :)

    Like

    • diannegray / Jan 13 2013 6:04 am

      It’s great the way we work and once you find something that helps it becomes a valuable tool. I’m really glad you’ve tried something similar to this before – and also glad you liked the post! :D

      Like

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  1. Happy Blogiversary to Me | Joy in the Moments
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