Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Do you know your MC?

Happy leap year day. I guess that's what you would call it.

First, I want to say, happy book birthday to CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh. His book was released 2/28/12.

Also, Partials by Dan Wells was released 2/28/12.

So go get them, people. On with the post.

Do you really know your main character? I'm not talking an interview. I'm talking get in their head and feel everything they do. Do you feel what they feel?

I'm finishing up a writing class, and I have to say, it really opened my eyes with one of my MCs. As you know, my current MS is told from two POVs. The one MC, a girl, I know and know well, but the other one I thought I knew. After doing an assignment for class, I realized who this guy really is, what he really wants--and it feels great. Before, the idea of this guy's character was there, but I don't think the light bulb was fully lit. I think I was more involved in the girl character that I sort of let his side of the story just roll, thinking that I 'got him'.

So, how do you accomplish this? For me, several revisions, but I think it's time. It's like a real life relationship. You don't truly know someone until you've spent time with them and been through real life ups and downs. Same holds true for your characters. As you write the story, it's fresh new and exciting. You're learning where the story is going and your character is being polite, you know that awkward get-to-know-you phase. They may only give you some pieces of their story, but the hard stuff is not revealed till later.

As you revise, things come out that you never knew about this character. It may change the way you look at them or it may bring you closer together. They reveal things, slowly, but you begin to learn who they truly are. Bit by bit you begin to feel their pain, their sorrow, their happiness. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Then once you are through the final edits and polishing, you feel like you've known them for ages. They may even feel like a real person. Of course, as writers, we know the difference between reality and fiction--right?

So how well do you know your characters?

Take a scene and ask yourself some questions:

How would my character react to what is going on around them?
What are they going through at that moment?
Will it move the story forward, getting them towards the goal you want them to get to?
Can you add things to the scene to heighten the tension of their feelings and reactions?
Does it make sense for the character?

Of course these are only some of the questions to ask.

Here are a some links on the subject:

Top Ten Questions for Creating Believable Characters

Characterization Questions

Character Questionnaires

Creating Memorable Characters.

Try it you may be surprised what you might find out.
Have a great day!


  1. Writing 2 different povs is hard, but when done well, is terrific reading! Thanks for the links.

  2. Thanks, Christine! Yesterday was a blast.
    Time probably is the greatest factor. Then you can see the character grow and change.

  3. I create character collages. That really helps me know who my characters are before I start typing. That, and I write their backstories (which no one sees).

  4. Thanks so much for the questions and the links! I definitely start to think my characters are real people after I spend a lot of time with them. :) Time really does make all the difference.

  5. I always think I know my characters at the beginning of a story, but by the time I've finished a first draft, I'm amazed by how much I didn't know to start with.