No, not that flesh – I’m not that kinda gal. I’m talking character flesh.
In a previous post Put Some Flesh on the Bones of my Dreams I received some great comments from other bloggers on how they add flesh to characters.
I thought I’d share their secrets with you (shhh – don’t tell them!)
4am Writer - 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.
Anna Scott Graham – 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.
Justin - 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.
Anna Belfrage - 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.
Carrie Rubin – 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.
Janna G Noelle – 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.
Jannatwrites – 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 me pay more attention to my characters than I ever did.
Harula – 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:-)
There you have it. Some great ideas from some great writers!
I’m hoping to write a post in the near future about how to come up with great story ideas. Those who have read my books will know that I LOVE writing stories that are have an unusual and unique theme (I’m constantly
contemplating my navel thinking of new and unusual ideas for story lines). Some of my ideas come from dreams and others can be as simple as stopping at a set of traffic lights and having a prisoner in a police van try to talk to me in sign language (yes – I have a WIP in progress about him).
If you want to share your thoughts on how you get your ideas for stories, feel free to add them to the comments and I’ll add them to my post.