Although I love a twisting plot, I tend to fall for books with well-drawn, intriguing characters. If the characters are rich, I find myself quoting them and relaying their experiences to my husband, almost as if they’re real people. I’ve even dreamt about a few of my favorite fictional characters.
In order to write characters who are round enough to cause our readers to dream about them, we need to know them well. Here are three tools for exploring your characters:
1. The Mind Map. I mind map everything, from article ideas to chapter content. The mind map can also be a good tool for developing your character. Here is an example of a mind map with some of the categories you will want to fill in for your characters.
2. The Genogram. The genogram is a chart that displays a person’s family relationships, much like a family tree. I use genograms to chart the relationships between characters in my books. A quick read of the Wikipedia article on genograms can help you understand and use the various symbols. For those of you who want a more thorough understanding, I like Genograms in Family Assessment by Monica McGoldrick. Here is the genogram of Cinerella’s family that I created for Write-A-Thon:
3. 25 Things! Remember a few years ago, when everyone was writing Facebook posts on 25 random things about me? I think that the 25 Things List would be a fun way to get into the head of one’s characters and start developing their voices. You might even save the list to use as a promotional blog post when your book is published.
There are more ideas for character development in my book, Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It).
Your turn: What tools will you use to explore your characters?
And a contest: enter to win your own copy of Write-A-Thon!