Developing Characters


As I’ve said before, my characters come to me. They are inspired by a novel I have read, a movie I have watched or a story or song I have heard. They seem to form on their own at the back of my mind. Eventually, they come to the forefront. I get to know them a little and decide whether they are worth writing about.

One of the most important things for me is to let my characters be who they are. I do not control their personalities or their actions. If I did, a character would make little sense. For example, I may want my trailer-trash character to attend the mayor’s ball and see how the other half lives. However, she would probably never receive such an invitation, unless she had already left her passed behind. She would have a better chance working as a busgirl at the ball than being a guest.

For a story to progress and a character to grow, an event of some sort must propel the desire to act. Again, I don’t really chose what will happen. If I am truly connected with my character and my story, then something will come up that will create a conflict. As an author, I think of my job as part channel for my characters and part judge of the story. As a channel, I let the characters make their own decisions and chose their own course. As a judge, I evaluate whether the decisions and subsequent actions make sense for a character’s personality and within the story.

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