Welcome back to Austen Promises and the Writer’s Journal!
For most writers, every character must be “sketched” in some manner before they begin to write. It’s important for the writer to understand each character’s personality, their likes and dislikes, their physical description, and how they would react in a particular situation. For me, Darcy and Lizzy are already fully formed. I only have to keep them in character, which is not as easy as it sounds. 🙂 I have learned, however, that I am in the same boat as every other writer when it comes to minor characters.
I have said before, many times, that my friend Leenie is an absolute expert at characterization. She can make the most hated Austen character into one that I will love and cheer for. (She has yet to attempt Lucy Steele, but I’m not about to challenge her on that. I rather like hating Miss Steele. LOL) I use Leenie as my model for many writing skills, as well as marketing ones. One of the things she has shared with me is a series of charts she found somewhere. One of the sheets included is a kind of personality chart for the hero. There’s also one for the heroine.
I have begun using these sheets, and a couple others I found online, when I need to understand how a character will react to a specific situation or comment. I often find myself stuck in writing because I don’t know how a scene should go. Filling them in seems to trigger something in my brain, and often I will finish the sketch on the back in some freeform writing.
I did this with Mr. Bennet in Darcy Overhears. I had no idea what I wanted him to be like, so I did not know how to write his response to either Darcy’s information about Wickham or the gossip about Lizzy. I began with a sheet listing his physical characteristics and his likes and dislikes and ended up writing out a paragraph on the back. That paragraph, especially, informed his reactions and I was able to breeze through the rest of his scenes with ease.
I do not do these charts ahead of time, though I do like to complete one for Lizzy and one for Darcy at the beginning of each story. I keep their basic personality the same, but will change their likes and dislikes and things for each story. For the minor characters, I tend not to fill the sheets in unless I have need of doing it. I know many writers can’t begin without this knowledge, but I remain a pantser at heart and always try to go it alone. LOL
If you are a writer, how do you get to know your minor characters? Do you use charts? Do you complete them as story prep or do as I do and fill them in as needed?
Come back next Wednesday for another peek into my journal! <3