Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Wed, Jun 02 2010

Awkward, fearful, hesitant, charming, socially adept?

A writer once told me she chooses her fictional characters' attributes by chance, akin to writing things on pieces of paper and tossing the papers into the air to see which ones land face up. I suppose that could work very well for some writers. I find that my characters have a bit more to say in the matter.

Lest you think I've lost my mind, let me say that I'm not talking about a taking over of the thought process here. I'm simply suggesting that characters tend to form sets of attributes that merge and travel through a story together. For instance, if you tried to describe yourself in three words, you might say you were loyal, gregarious and bossy. You're not likely to describe yourself as both shy and gregarious and introverted. That being said, we all have things about us that make us unique and interesting. So should characters. A basically introverted character might have very outgoing attributes that came after he or she was physically scarred from an accident. Their attitude may be one of overcompensating in order to draw attention from their physical appearance. And then, of course, we've all known the overly-pious person who turned out to be dating outside their marriage or slipping their hand into the church offering plate. These things happen. But if they do happen with your characters, make sure to have a good reason for them.

I could be wrong. You may have great fun and be very successful at producing your characters' attributes in a haphazard fashion. I suspect though, that even if you toss attributes on paper up in the air that you'll subconsciously still be leaning toward the ones that make your particular characters come to life in the best way.

posted at: 14:35 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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