Getting to know a character.

I’m surrounded by different characters. I work with them, pass them on the sidewalk, and I overhear them at lunch.

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Sometimes a character happens to be part of my family (Aunt Christie, I’m talking to you).

I watch. I listen. I observe.

That’s the easy part. For me, it’s simple to create a cast of characters, with a different personalities and mannerisms. The hard part is diving deeper and figuring out a character’s true core. 

The main character in my work-in-progress novel is a young girl trying to sort herself out. She’s in her 20’s and has the world at her feet. She has a budding career and is, so far, very successful. She thinks she knows everything. But, what really motivates her? What gets her out of bed each morning? It sounds straightforward…but it’s not. My challenge right now is getting to know my character, so that I can throw obstacles in her way and bring her to life.

In his book, Creating Characters, Dwight V. Swain says:

“We must learn to pay attention to human behavior in all it’s varied shades and nuances. Most especially, we need to become reflex-familiar with those twists and turns that influence the manner in which people’s lives develop. Why? Because they’ll provide insight into possible paths our characters may follow and actions they may take.”

So, what motivates your characters?

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