Monday, April 4, 2011


As I was editing my first novel, again, I started thinking…How much info do you have to include into your characters profile when creating them?

I personally don’t go into extreme detail when creating my characters. I don’t write down what books they like, which music they are into or what their political views are. I just know what their personality should be like. Even their look is something I struggle with. But at least I know what I don’t want them to look like. What I usually do write down is their eye colour, hair colour, height, weight, type of body build and personality traits.

I spend quite a lot of time trying to figure out the storyline before I start writing but I confess, I don’t go too crazy when developing a character. Bad planning on my part? Maybe, but I don’t like reading a lot of narrative, using 10 sentences to describe how thick a man’s bicep is or using half the page to describe how gloriously the lady’s hair blew in the wind. I personally read one or two sentences and then skip the rest.

Of course when the story develops I add more info, but I can’t tell beforehand where the dialogue will take me or what exactly will be said. Characters tend to take me on a journey. They take hold of me and before I know it they are the one’s telling me what to write and do and not the other way around. So I won’t know that pink is my leading lady’s favourite colour till she tells me so later on and I don’t know that my leading man loves Metallica when I create him. He too only tells me when it is convenient for him. Typical!

So how much time do you devote towards developing your characters? Do focus on giving your characters tons of info before writing or do you add it in later like me?


  1. I agree, what they do is far more interesting than what hey look like.

  2. I'm not really a writer, but I've always thought that a character evolves from the plot-line. As for the amount of character details to include, that depends on what you want to be known for. Some writers are known for their rather elaborate character sketches, while others prefer to keep it succinct.
    Just my thoughts, though!

  3. Mooderino - Thanks for stopping by.

    AshR - Thank you for the comment and for stopping by.

  4. Like you, I let the characters describe themselves by their actions. They also tell me where to go. There is nothing more boring than alot of waisted details.

  5. I was trying to explain to someone the other day how Characters tend to take on a life of their own and change a story. They didn't believe me.

  6. I'm the same as you when it come to characters.

    They walk into my head as humans that I have to get to know. And trying to brainstorm them isn't going to help. But at least I know what they look like.


  7. After 30+ years writing nonfiction, I am working on my first novel. I am not adding much detail on this first draft. Just trying to allow the story to emerge. I can always go back later and add those things in. Nice to "meet" you from the a-z challenge.

  8. I've started dabbling in writing exercises geared toward getting to know your main character. They've been fun and I've learned a bit more, but I usually just write and see how the character develops with the story.

  9. When I'm writing my rough draft there is no character outline. My character tells me how they feel what they want to do and who they want to be. I pay for it later when I'm trying to perfect who they are but at the beginning it gives me a real sense of where the story is going. I guess you can say I love to be surprised!

    Great blog! I stopped in to welcome you to the A to Z challenge! I'm a co-host should have any questions just ask away! I do hope you'll stop by for a visit! We're also having fun on twitter (I'm @jenunedited and we're at #atozchallenge)!

  10. Siv Maria - I can't agree with you more. Thank you so much for stopping by.

    Angela - They are so bossy and unpredictable. Thanks for stopping by.

    Misha - Glad to hear I am not alone. Thanks for stopping by.

    Karen - I completely agree, even though I couldn't quite put it as well as you. But I agree. It is very nice to meet you as well and thank you so much for following my blog.

    Brianna - I agree completely. Thank you so much for stopping by.

    Jen Daiker - Thank you so much for the welcome and for stopping by. I will be dropping by your blog shortly.

  11. Characters is my C word, too. Hope you'll stop by.

  12. I like to do both...I like to at least know who I am writing with, but I like to leave a lot of room for growth and change.


  13. I always start with a MASS of info on my characters, building a huge fact file with every possible trait / like / dislike and fact about them I can think of. 99 percent of this doesn't make it into the manuscript, but it sure does influence the way they behave as they go along.

  14. I try to get to know them very well before writing about them so that I know how they would react in a given situation. I want them to be true to themselves. Great post. I will be following.

  15. I know a little about my characters before I start but they get more fleshed out as I go along.

    I used to think I was the one in charge of what happened in the book but the characters are completely running the place.

    This is a great post...good luck with your writing.

    M.J. Fifield
    My Pet Blog

  16. Thelmaz - Thank you for stopping by. I will be returning the favour right away.

    Carla - I agree. My characters tend to have big personalities so they deserve all the room they can get. Thank you for stopping by.

    Laura - That sounds great. I might try adding more info on my next book and see how the writing differs from my current method. Thank you so much for stopping by.

    Jeanne - Thank you so much for stopping by and for following my blog. I think I might try to put more thought into my next set of characters as well.

    M.J. Fifield - Thank you so much for following my blog. Yeah, I have a hard time ignoring their constant chatter. But I am such a pushover. I just give into their demands in the end. Good-luck with your writing as well.


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