Monday, October 31, 2011

Who Are You?

I'm currently in the process of planning out my next project. I love this part. New scenes keep popping into my head and it's fun seeing how my characters react to the situations I'm putting them in.

The other day I played out a scene in my head and when I was rehashing it later, I started to wonder if my character would react that way. It felt natural for him to say what he said, but with his back story would he really do it? I had say to myself, "Who is this guy?"

People's life experiences define who they are. They either make them stronger or weaker, confident or vulnerable, at peace with who they are or chased by guilt and regrets. I need to make sure I have a clear idea of my character's history before I launch into a story. It will dictate his/her actions.

Do you guys take the time to come up with thorough character histories?
How do you decide if a character's reactions are what they should be?


  1. Truth be told I've avoided character profiles like the plague.
    Reason: I want my characters to become what they want, not what I have planned out for them. It's usually what I see in my head that fills in the picture for me. Even better when they develop as I write...

  2. That's a really good point. Characters do develop as the story progresses and locking them into a history can stunt your story. The last book I wrote, I found my character's backstory changed as I discovered new things about them, but I really liked having the history there. It definitely made me think carefully about what they were doing :)

  3. I am an avid believer in character profiling. We all have to start somewhere... and your character is always going to grow throughout the story in an organic way, regardless of if you have profiled them or not.
    When I profile - it makes me realise that everyone has their own limitations... and it's breaking through these that allow us to grow as humans. And no matter how hard I think about it - we are always going to have some form of back story...
    Let me know if you ever want to see some of my profiles that I have created in the past. I'll send them though to you. I have a 'quick' profile template I use... and a much more extensive one as well.

  4. That's really cool. I have a template I use, but I'd love to see one of yours too. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. MMhh I am a mix between TG Ayer and parchment place....I don't do full to character profiles but I do interview my characters prior to writing especially the main characters. Sometimes they want to share straight away and other times it is a case of push and pull with how much info they want to give me at the beginning.
    As the story progresses though, the character starts filling out in their own way...
    But I do like your point that people's life experiences define their actions.
    Good post Mel.
    Enjoy teasing out the details in the new WIP.
    - Kim :)

  6. I always write some basic information down for characters that will play key roles in the book, mostly because their history WILL play a big role in their actions. It's also because I get ideas for stories that would make HORRIBLE books but make AWESOME backstory.

  7. I try to come up with character ideas before I write--mostly personality types. But as I write, I get to know each of them and their backstories better. After that, they develop their own voices, which is when the book really comes alive for me.

  8. Thanks for sharing everyone. It's great to see what other people do and how they work with their characters :)