What is your character’s defining quality? (Do this with even minor characters.) I. E. Fear, control freak, etc.
Main characters: what is their defining strength? Defining Weakness? Yearning?
Other ideas for characterization:
write a bio
do character webbing
write a journal entry in their voice
take an event from your own life. Write, in character’s voice, about that event as if it happened to them.
Give characters more than one dimension.
Exercise: write 10 characteristics about yourself. Write 10 characteristics about your main character. They can be contradictory. (We all are.)
Inner Conflict: have your character want mutually exclusive goals.
Character growth: make sure she has changed throughout the story.
Perfection (in people) is for the next life, not your novel.
Don’t make a character an idiot.
Characters must be likeable.
Add Heroic characteristics:
think of a personal hero
write down six qualities they have
what makes her heroic?
What was the moment you became aware of that characteristic?
Assign that quality to your hero. Find a way for her to show it in the first scene.
Find six more points before your climax to show that quality.
Characteristics of heroes (James Frey):
Clever and resourceful
Has a special talent (then you must make sure she uses it somewhere)
Lives by their own laws
Good at what they do for a living
Takes the lead in a cause or action at some point in the story
Has been wounded (hurt, disgraced, grieving for a lost love)
Motivated at some point by idealism
Attractive or has sex appeal.
It is the characters that people remember. “No one ever wrote me a fan letter about a plot line. It’s always a character.” (Someone else said that.)
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, WRITE.