A to Z Challenge: Characters

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger.

Character development is, I admit, something I struggle with a bit. That's why last year I did my whole A-Z theme on characters. Each day I did writing exercises to practice writing about people. Something that is tricky about writing people is that we are all so complex. To create, from scratch, a whole person?! It's a little like playing God. My ego hasn't gotten that big yet! But there are a few things I've learned about creating characters:

  • There is no shame in pulling parts of your characters' personalities and histories from your own life or people you know. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
  • Readers can fill in a lot of gaps. No need to give a physical description, down to the freckle on his left wrist, unless that plays an important part in the story.
  • Most things characters do should be influenced by their history in some way. As actors say, "What is my motivation?" or, "why am I doing this?" There has to be a reason for every action.
  • That said, not every character is so important as to need a name and entire history. It's ok to have peripheral characters that are just that. Maybe a tiny bit of history to establish why they are there, but no need to make a home movie reel for the incidental bartender.
  • Bartholomew Boulstridge Bell
    from our new book, Sky Pirates
  • Main characters must be dynamic! They have to learn and change, for better or worse, otherwise why do we care to read about them? The lovely lad at right is the main character in our new book, Sky Pirates. He starts as a somewhat stuffy scientist's assistant and in some threads turns into quite the adventurer. Change! It's what makes reading about a character fun. :)

Anything y'all can share about characters? Your favorites? Least favorite? Has a character in a book ever really pissed you off? (the answer to that for me is YES - the main character in Eat, Pray, Love. UGH)