Yesterday, I had a talk with one of my coaching clients about characters. Not so much characters as those character sheets that writers are always filling out. The ones that ask what their favourite colour is or whether they prefer hard rock or classical music. One course I took had me filling out six pages worth of detail. As my client noted, “jeez, I don’t even know myself this well!”
Does it help to know that your character likes bananas but only when in banana bread and in no other form?
It depends. Does it say something about his behavior? Does he not like bananas because they mean sticky fingers? Or is it something that fills in a character form?
I’m not knocking someone else’s process. For lots of writers, these forms are helpful. But what if you’re like me or my client and find these forms a great big, time suck?
What do you need to know about a character?
What are the essentials?
What are the nice-to-haves?
It doesn’t matter if your character is a six-foot-three god with flaming red hair if you haven’t got the above sorted out. Knowing that he prefers red wine to beer and trucks to sedans will only tell you so much about who he is. But the part that will have him drive the plot forward with his decisions and actions? Now that you HAVE to know.
A little something to get you started on your writing journey:
Do you want to write a romance novel?
Everyone wants a HAPPILY EVER AFTER (HEA).