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When developing your characters, what steps do you take? Do you make a list or trust your memory? Do you stick to the list or let it grow as your character takes form?

Do you list out their physical characteristics? Do you have a list of their likes and dislikes?  Do you include their desires? Their goals? Their quirks? Their fears? Their strengths and weaknesses? Do your characters have secrets?

I’ve got a character file for each of my novels that deals with all of the above and more. If, say, while writing some dialog, it turns out my character has a strange way to turn a phrase, I’ll incude it on their notes.

When they interact with other characters, I include that in chapter order in an effort to maintain continuity.

Many moons ago, I blogged here about developing layered characters which prompted my friend to share a little tidbit that she uses while developing her characters:

What does your character carry around in his pocket?

Interesting, eh?  It does make me think about my character differently.

I carry things around in my pocket all the time.  Sometimes it is a seashell, sometimes a clear white crystal, a smooth metal coin with an angel on it, and sometimes a starfish.  These things hold special meaning for me and when I am thinking about certain things, these help me to keep focused.

So, what’s in your character’s pocket?

About the Author Corinne

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  1. I like this as an exercise and writing prompt! Women rummage around in their purses all the time, men open their wallets. There are bound to be interesting bits of information about them hidden behind the driver’s license or underneath the make-up bag.

  2. I like this as an exercise. When acting, it’s part of what we need to do: know the backstory of the character, even though you may not put it on stage or ever say anything about it. It helps propel the characterization.

    I should try that for my novel. Might help me along.

    Thanks

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