Hi everyone, I’m Diana Paz. ~waves hello~ Natalie is recovering from her surgery and as her devoted and adoring friend, I’m here to help with a guest post about character development.
I’m *not* a character development wizard, not by a long shot. But when Nat asked me about guest-posting, I remembered some great workshops I took while at the SCBWI conference last summer. My character development notes are all jumbled together from two workshops, one by YA author Carolyn Mackler and the other by Claudia Gabel, an editor at a YA imprint at Harper Collins and also a YA writer herself.
They both talked in depth about character development and creating believable characters. Here’s what I learned:
♥ Know what your main characters want. What they want will drive their actions.
♥ Understand your character.
- Claudia Gabel suggested writing up character “resumes” that included everything about the character.
- Not only birthday and favorites, but hobbies, most liked and least liked people in their lives (and why), whether they read magazines, what kind of TV shows/movies they watch. Go on and on! Music, holidays, there’s no limit. She said for her own books, she easily had ten to twenty pages of character background!
- Think about how your character reacts to situations that don’t relate to your book/story. What does he/she do on a rainy day? What is his/her reaction to witnessing a shoplifter? How does he/she tackle a boring assignment/chore/job?
♥ By the end of the book, there should be a notable shift in what your character wants. Character growth is show when he/she no longer wants the same thing--or wants the same thing but for different reasons.
♥ Dialogue should be unique to each of your characters, especially main characters. Dialogue should *not* be interchangeable.
- If you’d be able to have a different character say the same thing a main character says, in the same way, the dialogue isn’t unique enough.
- Without attribution, a main character’s speech should be recognizable.
- All this happens because you as the writer *know* your character.
I really enjoyed these workshops and this conference, and I learned a lot. I’ve noticed that after writing up character resumes, scenes flow a bit faster. I’m more in tuned with my characters, and I know more readily their reactions. I hope that by understanding my characters that much better, my story overall will be that much stronger.
Thank you Di! Tomorrow we have Melissa from Chasing the Dream coming in, so make sure to stop by!