CC101 – Discussion Question 1

Writers, do your characters come to you as people, already formed?  Or do you “build” the character yourself? 

I know writers who feel strongly both ways — so I’m not saying one is right or wrong!  Every writer’s process is unique, that’s why I’m curious.

Personally, I see a big block of material:  clay, granite, marble, etc.  The character is inside.  I just need to uncover it.  Sometimes I get a whisper of voice from the block.  Maybe I know what its name is.  Or maybe I know where it came from.  But the heart and soul of the character is trapped inside until I begin to methodically cut away the outside layers to reveal the living, breathing person inside.

What about you?

8 thoughts on “CC101 – Discussion Question 1

  1. I’m never consistent on this. Sometimes a character comes to me fully formed, like Athena springing from Zeus’s forehead. More usually I’ll have an idea for someone (like my current hero, who I knew was a werewolf doctor) and it’s more like your marble. I don’t think it’s ever like clay or anything moldable for me. It’s a matter of finding them rather than shaping them.

  2. It’s definitely an uncovering process for me, which makes me think they’re usually there fully formed and I just have to dust them off… I forget who talks about the story and all its pieces like a fossil you have to delicately extract; it’s like that for me.

  3. For me the characters come in bits and pieces. Sometimes it takes writing the rough draft for me to really get to know the character, to discover them as a person and not just a construct.

    However, I wish they were more fully formed before I started writing. To acheive this, I’m trying something new (I talked it abou it earlier this week on my blog). I’m using random journals I have around the house and letting the characters write whatever they want. I’m not really asking them questions or giving them prompts. In fact, I kind of anticipate most of what they write won’t even go into the story, at least, not directly. Indirectly, I expect what the journal entries will reveal will appear in the details. Perhaps even in passing. Small, but significant details that will hopefully make them appear well-developed, well-rounded, and real.

  4. I think they are fully formed when they come to me. The problem is that they don’t trust me, nor do they want to cooperate with me, so I end up feeling like an interrogator. A thought that used to unnerve me, but meh, I got used to it-and more effective with my questioning. :wink:

  5. Some characters come almost fully formed, and I learn the details through their actions and reactions to others around them. Other characters are more of a mystery and I have to figure them out, like a puzzle or a maze. :grin: Mostly I think it’s motivation and the bad guys, I know what they’re doing (or trying to do) just not sure why.

  6. My characters always arrive with the following: a face (I might get this from a movie or photograph or real person), an expression on that face reflecting a very specific emotion, and an action — they’re almost always in the middle of doing something when they arrive in my brain. They’re not really fully formed except visually — I can always see them very vividly. The trick from there is to ‘dust them off’ as Jess said above and figure out why they’re up to whatever they’re doing, which is usually being in the middle of some sort of serious trouble… :mrgreen:

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