Tag Archives: brainstorming

How to Give Your Characters More Personality

If you are a fellow NaNo, you may have bumped into a few new characters this week.  Or maybe you realized that you didn’t know your protagonist as well as you thought you did.  Either way, I have a tool  that will help you discover more about your characters in less time than the average character sketch.

Before I changed my concentration to English, I was a psychology major.  I spent a lot of time researching the great psychologists and trying to understand their tests and theories.  To be honest, I thought most of what I was learning was pointless.  I could apply very little to what I wanted to do with my life.  However, I did stumble across one tool that made six semesters of grueling psych classes completely worth it.

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How loose are your ideas?

I sat down to write.  Pen in hand, blank paper before me.  The idea was clear: girl loves unconscious boy and discovers a way to reach him.  I had spent weeks brainstorming, tweaking ideas and dissecting my characters.  Before I placed my pen to the paper, I realized something.  I had it all wrong.  In two seconds, weeks of work stepped aside for an even better idea.  The story isn’t about the girl at all.  It is about the brother’s pain and eventual repentance from his self-destructive lifestyle.  The unconscious boy and the girl are in the background, just a side effect of a common tragic event.  But, the brother’s story is the story.

I could not have reached this “aha!” moment without holding my ideas loosely.

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