Creating Characters

Posted on Posted in Writing&Publishing

There are four separate books running around my head, right now.

Each with different plots, characters, and storylines. If you spend any time around me, you’ll hear me exclaim that I need to work on my books because there are too many people pounding on my head trying to get out…on paper.

Recently, someone asked me how do I create characters? How do I keep them all separated?

That is a good question.

From my earliest days, I have been gifted with being able to remember details and patterns about people. Details such as favorite desserts, least favorite desserts, favorite vacation places. Patterns such as every two years this person will go to this place and another person will change their car in about 6 months. The characters that develop for a story might start from the seed sparked by an encounter, but just as real people develop personalities, likes, and dislikes, so do the characters in a book.

Online search for an interview sheet to create characters and many-if not hundreds- show up in the resulting list. But my brain doesn’t really work that way.

I’ll use those sheets as a jumping off point, but then create backstories using them. The questions might be: What is your character’s favorite hot drink? Then I’ll write a short story about how it became a favorite. That way, if there is a situation in the story that creates a memory spark, I’ll know why and how the character will relate.

Say what?

For instance. Danielle enjoys tea and makes it the English way with loose leaf in a tea pot that she picked up in Japan on one of her many missions. The backstory I created about Danielle involved spending time with Eli in Israel. Part of her training was to walk to roads where Jesus walked and travelled where He travelled. Covered in the dust of the road, Danielle became familiar with the sun’s heat beating down upon her head. The days were so hot and the evenings, well, they were cooler, but only moderately so. Eli would boil tea to make sure it was safe to drink and ended up steeping the loose leaf tea in a pot he had picked up in England.

Danielle had also only known rejection and fear towards her until Eli began mentoring her and caring for her. So, tea became a symbol of acceptance of love. Knowing these things, whenever Danielle was faced with a situation tinged with fear or created a need for some comfort, it now makes sense that she would fix herself a “proper cuppa” at certain times.

Remember one question can lead you down an interesting path wherein you are able to create short stories and get to understand a character’s life even better.

What’s your favorite drink? Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, chai…

‘Til next time…

…God’s grace and peace to you!

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