Developing My Characters
When I had people read the first few drafts of my book, the feedback I received was that I was really good at world building but needed to work on character development. My first thought was “What is character development?” and second “What is world building?”. I had written the story based on inspiration, shoving all the thoughts into the keyboard as they flowed. I didn’t understand the rules of writing, so as you can imagine my story needed a lot of work. And since I love learning new things I was up to the task of learning the art and science of writing.
I can hear some people right now saying that writing is not a science, rather, it is art, a form of expression, a piece of work brought into reality with words, and created from the mind of the writer. I agree with all of this. But to me it is also a science because I can use the scientific method to some degree. The scientific method is basically:
- Making an observation (I read bestsellers and award winners to observe the writing styles being used.)
- Forming a question to find out more about what was observed (What makes a book stay in the minds of people and prompt them to recommend as a read?)
- Forming a Hypothesis (It is the story, themes, and characters that connect with readers.)
- Conducting an Experiment (Writing a book, to me at least, is a form of experiment in connecting with the readers through the story, themes, and characters.)
- Analyzing the data and drawing a conclusion (I’ll find out through the next few years.)
Since I feel characters are one of the driving forces of making a good book, learning about character development was crucial. I took different approaches to learning about character development. And I have to say that I learned a lot about people along the way. Below are some of the methods I used in learning about character development, but they also helped in other aspects of writing.
Margie Lawson’s courses – Empowering Characters’ Emotions and Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist
Writer’s Digest University – Several
A Memoir of the Craft On Writing by Stephen King
Just Write by James Scott Bell
Writing Great Fiction, taught by James Hynes through The Great Courses
Writer’s Digest – Several
Storymakers Conference – I participated in a pre-conference intensive and attended many classes. A highlight of the conference was meeting James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and having him sign my book. But I also met several other fabulous authors, so I am excited to be joining these authors on the last day of the 2018 conference for a Mass Author Book Signing/Sale.
I also learned from the feedback I received from my alpha reader, beta readers and editors.
With the information I obtained from all these resources I created character sheets, that included some interview questions, to give my characters some history and depth. The hardest characters to write were the apprentices at Genesis because they are not present throughout the story, but I wanted to make sure to give them some depth through their conversations and actions so readers could have a sense of their personality and values.
You can start to get a sense of Nia, the main character, by reading an excerpt of my book The Immundus.
REMINDER: Goodreads giveaway is open until the end of December 31, 2017.