I guess every author has his or her own tricks on how to develop their characters. In the three years I've been writing, I've used several methods to get to know my characters, but it is not easy for a pantser. All you want to do is sit, write, and get the book out there. But, even as a pantser, you have to think about your character to let your readers see how they grow and develop throughout your story.
I find that I may think for weeks about a character before I start writing the story. I then might write the story, the awful first draft, to see if something pops up. Most often, the character surprises me when they do or reveal something, so unexpected, it threw my whole story in a loop. In a recent WIP, the character revealed something terrible that happened in her youth. It was out of the blue, and it shocked me so much that I had to talk to a friend before I could continue. I did not expect that. I am still trying to deal with the aftermath of my character's revelation and hadn't been able to finish the story yet.
Other times I still don't have a clue about a character after that first draft. That is when I start trying different methods. So how do I develop my character then?
I start off by interviewing them. I have a long document I use. You are welcome to try my Character Interview.
In romance, it is sometimes that stupid little fears that make your character human. It could be a fear of rejection or a fear of exposing something you held secret. We all do that. Think about yourself. Have you ever gone into a new relationship, worried that if your new partner finds this or that out about you, they may not like you anymore? And often your partner doesn't even notice it, but you know it's there and it holds you back. Until you find that someone who makes you realise that it doesn't matter. Anyway, what I wanted to say was that characters NEED flaws, otherwise they are too superficial. Nobody is THAT perfect.
Now that long interview form I mentioned above? I don't always fill in all the answers before it suddenly clicks. Other times I need to still dig deeper.
You may ask the question: how do I know what colour my character likes and what food he hates? And what does it matter to the story? Most often it doesn't. One of my characters surprised me the other day when he admitted he hate mushrooms. Now, I completely understand that, because I hate mushrooms but what did it had to do with the story? Because the female character noticed it. And when she cooked a dish which was supposed to have mushrooms in, she left it out because she knew he didn't like it. It is a simple thing, but it means he is not as perfect as he appears to be and he may have other flaws, other secrets, she still needs to discover. You see where I'm going with this?
One method I use is using astrology signs to find out what my character might like or don't like, like colours, for example. One of the sites I like to use is
It gives you characteristics of each star sign and other signs they are compatible with, helping you to figure out which person will fit better with another. Don't worry. It's not set in stone, but it just helps you to THINK about your characters.
And then, even after I've tried all my methods, characters may still surprise me. Or maybe it is just pantsers they surprise?
Until next time
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