Understanding Your Lead Characters

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Has anyone else seen this book kicking around Chapters, Indigo, Barnes and Noble or pretty much any store that sells books? Well, I was the happy recipient of one for Christmas. The likelihood of me filling in a journal, even just one line a day, for five years? I’m going to say nil. Confidently, ZERO.

But, what happened this past Saturday night was pretty inspiring for me. To develop the characters for my novel, I currently use all sorts of resources. Character trait charts, an outline for each main character’s arc, etc. Pieces of paper or documents are hiding all around my desk and computer, so it can be pretty hard to keep straight. Then I thought, hey, why not use one ‘year’ in this Q&A book for each lead character? It’s a surprisingly thought provoking book. The very first question, January 1, is “what is your mission.” If that doesn’t sum up the goal of a novel, I don’t know what does. Now, there are questions much less deep than that, such as “where do you want to travel next”, but there are also questions like “what makes ‘you’ you.”

By going through this book for each character, it has led me to a much deeper and fuller understanding of both my heroes and heroines. And, best part of all, it’s all in one place. I can have the heroines of five different novels living under one thick book, and it will be a treasure to keep for years, tracking where my heroines or heroes started. Not to say they won’t change, that’s the whole point of a character arc, but at least I know where they started in my imagination.

What tools do you use to understand your characters better?

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One Response to Understanding Your Lead Characters

  1. dianacranstoun February 19, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

    What a GREAT idea!!

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