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People ask me this question a lot, and I generally don't know how to answer it except to say that the characters theyâ€™re working into the novel are unconscious representations of themselves. I used to struggle with character development. Then I realized that in a character based novel, the characters themselves make up the book, which meant that each of them would need to have a different personality offering of themselves various subsets of the plot. I like to use repetition when developing my characters. Itâ€™s a common tool. When you sit down to brainstorm, think of your novel like a movie, and use your words like a lens. Zoom in on the important aspects of each character, whatever they are. Zoom in closer on the more important ones. Your reader will see it if you write and place it well. The plot will work its way in once the characterâ€™s personality is clear to you, but that wonâ€™t happen until the characters and their internal/external conflicts are addressed. Authors often make the mistake of working characters into a novel. Itâ€™s the other way around in todayâ€™s novels. Characters create the setting, the plotâ€¦you create the characters. Itâ€™s also helpful to carry around scratch pads so that you can write down ideas. I used to carry one. If I saw someone walking down the street in a blue shirt and clown shoes and thought it would be neat in a story, Iâ€™d write it down. Just have fun, youâ€™ll get to know your characters and the book will end up taking you to places you had no idea even existed.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|