Two Essential Ways to Build Your Characters
by Katie McGarry, author of Pushing the Limits (Harlequin TEEN)
Nothing in writing causes me more joy or pain than creating my characters. Sometimes I have characters who sit themselves next to me and tell me their life story. Sometimes I have characters who love to play hard to get. But without fail, by the time I’m done writing a book, I know way more about all my characters than what makes it into the actual story.
How do I create my characters? Well, I do several things.
1. I ask them questions.
Echo, the heroine in Pushing the Limits, was awesome at answering questions. I asked her: “Do you have any siblings?” She answered: “Yes, but he died.”
Does it get much better than that? Of course, at that point, I had to know what happened and she was more than happy to tell me.
Another question I asked is if she was a virgin. I saw her blush bright red as she answered yes. That told me that in order to create instant conflict, she needed a hero who wasn’t embarrassed about sex.
So what do you do when you have a character who refuses to answer questions?
2. I let them play.
Noah, the hero in Pushing the Limits, refused to answer any of my questions. He crossed his arms over his chest and snapped his mouth tight.
So I free wrote Noah. I gave him room on the page with absolutely no expectations from me. Imagine my surprise when the only thing that would keep him in his guidance counselor’s office was the offer of seeing his brothers. I had no idea he had brothers until he sat back down in the chair.
The best advice I can give is to always be willing to listen to your characters. You’ll never be sorry you did.
Editor’s Note: Katie is on a blog tour promoting her debut Harlequin TEEN novel PUSHING THE LIMITS! She’s stopped by to talk about her characters. If you would like to WIN a copy of PUSHING THE LIMITS, leave a comment here in answer to this question: Have you ever met a character on a page that resembles you in some way? Answer on the blog before Friday, July 27, 11:59 p.m. EST. US and Canada residents only, I’m afraid. For full contest details, see here.
Check out the next stops on Katie’s blog tour:
Wednesday, July 25th – Harlequin Blog
Monday, July 30th – http://www.tyngasreviews.com/
Tuesday, July 31st * Book Bday* – http://www.kristensimmonsbooks.com/blog
Wednesday, August 1st – http://www.totalbookaholic.com/
Thursday, August 2nd – http://www.sithereandread.com/
Friday, August 3rd – http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/
Monday, August 6th – http://foreveryoungadult.blogspot.com
Tuesday, August 7th – http://www.jenbigheart.com/
Wednesday, August 8th – http://bethanygriffin.blogspot.com
Thursday, August 9th – http://iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com/
Friday, August 10th – http://blog.kellycreagh.com