Monday, December 8, 2008


This morning, a friend wrote about Character on her blog Writer Musings. She nicely summarized a presentation given by Martha Mihalick at the Prairie Writers’ Day conference we both attended in November.

I’ve been reading Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird, which is a great guide to writing, and I just happened to read the chapter on character. Maybe the fates are telling me that I need to get to know my character better. I thought I’d pass on some questions that she writes that would help us to understand our characters better.

How do they stand?
What do they carry in their pockets or purses?
What happens in their faces when they’re thinking, or bored, or afraid?
Whom would they have voted for last time?
Why should we care about them anyway?
What would be the first thing they stopped doing if they found out they had six months to live?
What sort of first impression do they make?
What do they care most about, want more than anything in the world?
What are their secrets?
How do they move? How do they smell?

There are more, but this is a great place to start. Once you get to know your character, not everything needs to be revealed to the reader, but some of the details will come out in the story. What’s important is that your characters are complex and real.

Now, I need to go get to know Victoria better.


Kelly said...

Cool! Is that the book we will be writing from on Thursday? Looks like a good one!

Tabitha said...

This is a fabulous book, isn't it? It's one of my favorites on the craft of writing. :)

I saw that you entered Nathan Bransford's contest. That's awesome! Good luck! :)

Ann E. Bryson said...

Thanks Tabitha! Did you enter too?