How Well Do You Know Your Characters?

Firstly, thanks to everyone who commented on my Fiction Friday post. Im really quite shocked that no one guessed who, or what, was narrating the story. It was…

…my pencil case…this one 🙂





Last week, in my quest to actually “plan” my Nano novel for this year i decided to start trying to get to know my MC…Beth Adams. Im pretty good when it comes to creating characters out of thin air and then fitting a story around them, but this time, i already have the story, so poor Beth has to be moulded into it.

In the chicken or egg analogy, for me, its usually the character first, so this is all a bit strange lol…and I’m finding it challenging. How do i know her strengths or weaknesses until i get her into a situation where she reveals them?

Ive been using the Character Outline (hope that link works) that goes with the Future Learn course by Josip Novakovich but I’m sure there are hundreds of them out there. As Novakovich says, my character has to be “plausible” in regard to the plot of my story, and thats the difficult bit. So many times i read a book and i don’t really like the main character. Either she’s so goddamn strong that i can’t sympathise or she’s very wishy washy and just plain annoying. I don’t want Beth to be either of those 😉

A writer friend asked me recently who i base my characters on? Ummmm…pass lol. She went on to say that it can often help if you base them on someone you know, a real person and that you can use the description of one person and put it with the characteristics of another. Ok, but don’t people recognise themselves? Apparently not….and now I’m worried that I’m in one of her books! lol

I can see that working, i often use pictures of people in magazines to inspire my characterisations. And then i remembered the Face Generator at National Geographic…love this! Great fun, and i can now see what I’m picturing in my head.

How much of your character do you know before you start writing? Do you prefer to know all about them before you type the first word, or let them evolve as the story progresses?




13 thoughts on “How Well Do You Know Your Characters?

  1. I sometimes have a real person in mind for a character, but not someone I know well as then I’d run the risk of actually writing about them.


  2. I do a combo of both. I have an idea of back story, strengths, fears, quirks, what their personal quest will be/what they need to learn, but they evolve as I write. My novels are very character driven.


  3. With my current WIP a lot of the support characters are based on my friends, but only in their looks, and maybe a minor little personality trait whichll be an in-joke for them.


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