Friday, September 23, 2011

Character Creation

I'd planned to blog about characters on Wednesday, but as it turned out, I was working on finding and getting to know my own.  That may be a good thing, because I've just gone through the process and it's fresh in my mind.  Almost too fresh. ☺

There's no reason to mention that for a romance there's a need for two main characters.  Without someone to love, there's no romance, so choose characters you can relate to and readers will love.

But how does a writer choose the best characters that will work well for each particular story?  It's a process, and sometimes it can be a long one.  For me, the characters often come first, and when they do, it starts with one character, who often has a built in conflict.  That conflict may not be the one I stick with, but it's a starting place and can morph into something bigger and better.  Sometimes a character comes with only a character description:  single mom, rodeo cowboy, girl from the wrong side of the tracks, etc., just to name a few.  Even that small bit is a good start.

How to choose that second character?  It seems no one knows who to attribute this quote to, but someone once said that if your hero is a firefighter, your heroine better be an arsonist.  Can you hear the scream of conflict in that?  Yes, opposite types are going to be in conflict with each other.  Without conflict, a story has no teeth.  In fact, without it, it's boring.  Just make sure there's some quality for each of them that the other can admire, otherwise their romance isn't going to last to the middle of the book.

While searching for the author of the firefighter/arsonist quote, I found a great article online that might help when creating characters.  Opposites attract, but can it last? begins with a quote from best-selling, award-winner author Susan Elizabeth Phillips, whose books I refuse to miss.  In fact, I often use her newest one as a reward after reaching a big goal.

Some writers use character profile sheets to help create their characters.  In most of them, there are lists of things to fill in, such as age, hair color, favorite books, birth order, and other things that help writers get to know their characters better.  Once upon a time, long, long ago, I used character profile sheets, but I discovered I spent more time filling them out than getting to know my characters.  Sometimes I'm so focused and engrossed that I forget the main reason for doing something.  This doesn't mean profile worksheets are bad.  If the sheets help or you think they might, use them!  We need all the help we can get.  There are countless profile sheets online that can be saved and/or printed.  To find them, simple do a search for character profile worksheet, try out a few, and choose the one that best helps you.  If you find that none of several you try don't fit, take the best aspects and create your own.

I'll be revisiting the topic of characters again soon, because there's more to share.  After all, without characters, there's really no story, even if those characters are thinking and talking trees and plants. :0

So what kind of characters did I come up with?  A single mom of a 12-year-old girl and a cowboy with a horse ranch.  I'll share more about them later. ;)

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