Day 3 of writing in a row. I just go back from class maybe a half hour ago, it’s about 9:30pm right now, so I feel pretty lucky I’m awake to finish this up! Actually, I started on this post last night knowing that I might not have time today to dedicate my full attention to it.
Character development is something I’m focusing on right now more than the actual writing part of my story. This got me thinking, what can I do to develop my character other than thinking about her in my head at random times? I know I need to have something concrete written down about her other than pent up thoughts.
Side note: I talk about my “story” here a lot, it’s the main one I’m working on now and I think it’s a novel but I’m not sure yet. Right now, it’s just a story I want to write, that’s all. I want to write it because I think it’ll be fun and challenging and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a kid. I do have one rule however, and that is I don’t like telling anything about my story that would give away what it’s about UNTIL I have a first draft. Not even my husband knows. Well, I told him about my story idea ONCE. In one sentence. But he doesn’t remember things sometimes so I’m pretty sure he’s forgotten about it. We were drinking. Per usual.
Anyway, I want to develop my character a little more before I start writing again, I think it will help move my story along.
I tried looking on the internet to find some prompts to help get me started, but didn’t really like any of the ones I came across. A lot of them were specific to creating situations for your character based on a question or a prompted scenario. This can work, but not quite what I had in mind.
So I gave up on that and started to think about WHAT makes a person? Because really, at the end of the day, the characters we write about are people, right? So they have to have people qualities like you and I do. It makes sense to me that in order for them to feel alive and “come off the page” (as so many writing magazines and books and articles have said), they need to have the same types of life experiences that people do. Things like growing up a teenager, a childhood, young adulthood, death in their life at some point, a home, a bedroom, firsts, favorites, dislikes, etc. So I came up with the list below to get me started:
Text conversations with friends/family
Email exchanges with friends
Journal entries from childhood
Box of keepsakes
Internal thoughts on commute to work
Current daily routine
Routine as a child/teenager/college student
First day of college
Last day of college
First day of first job after college
Conversations with her dog
First date with boyfriend
Breakup conversation with boyfriend
Thoughts while drunk
Items in her purse/bag
Background on phone/laptop
List of books on her bookshelf (if any)
Typical holiday season (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s)
Typical weekend story
Out of the ordinary weekend story
Internal monologue of her life story
How she would answer therapy questions
Conversation with parents that made her angry
Conversation with parents that made her sad
Conversation with parents that made her happy
Performance review from her boss
First funeral experience
First wedding experience
When she met her dog
First time having sex
First online dating experience
Conversation with best friend
Fight with best friend
Now, I definitely don’t think I’m done with this list yet, but it’s a good place for me to start and it’s a long list of things for me to work on randomly when I want to in between writing. Some of them are just descriptions of things, some are dialogues, and some are full scenes and might be able to use snippets in my story.
Please excuse any typos today as I’m sleepy eyed writing/editing this.