LATEST RELEASE

               Find Out  More! | Read an Excerpt

Latest from the Blog

SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG  

 Subscribe in a reader

 

Or By Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

                           

 

WHAT I'VE READ LATELY

Roni's bookshelf: read

Trial by FireThe Dom's DungeonBy the BookNakedSmash CutSave The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need

More of Roni's books »
Roni Loren's  book recommendations, reviews, quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists
Search This Site
Powered by Squarespace
Latest From the Blog
Dig Through the Archives
100+ reading challenge 2010 about me adverbs agent agents ashley march author author blog author branding author intrusion author platform author voice author websites authors award awards backstory bad boy balance berkley heat best writing links beta club beta reader beta readers blog tour blog tours blogfest blogger blogging blogging tips book book covers book deal book marketing book promotion book reviews book title books branding characters comments contest contests crash into you creativity critique critique group critiquing dear author debut author deep point of view deep POV dialogue ebooks editing editors endings e-publishing excerpt face off friday feedback fiction fill-me-in friday first chapter first draft first novel genre genre fiction goals guest blog guest blogging guest post harlequin historical romance hook how to write humor ideas indie publishing inspiration interview joan swan Julie Cross kindle kissing blogfest kristen lamb links literary agent literary fiction love scenes marketing mashup melt into you memorable moments middle grade motivation motley crue movies muse music mystery mystery writing Nelson Literary Agency new years resolutions novels opening chapter opening lines openings overediting panster pantser paranormal pen name perfectionism pitching plotter plotting poll promotion publishing queries query query letter querying question of the day reading reading challenges rejection repost revising revisions romance romance author romantic suspense rough draft royal street rules RWA RWA nationals sagging middle Sara Megibow save the cat self-editing self-publishing sequels series sex scenes sierra godfrey social media social networking speed writing submissions suspense suzanne johnson teens tempest tiffany reisz time management TMI traditional publishing tumblr twilight twitter update urban fantasy voice WIP wip wednesday women's fiction wordiness work in progress wednesday workshops write tip writer writer toolbox writers writer's block writers' conference writer's toolbox writetip writing writing blogs writing contest writing craft writing goals YA young adult

Fiction Groupie Archives

These are my writing posts from my former blog, spanning 2009-2012. To see new writing posts, click on the blog tab above. To see these archived post organized by topic, click "For Writers" above.

Entries in therapy (1)

Tuesday
Aug182009

Character Therapy

 

Characters are the hearts of our stories. We don't fall in love with plot (usually), we fall in love with the people. So when creating the characters for our stories, we need to pay careful attention to create three-dimensional believable ones. Our characters should have full, rich backstories of why they act the way they do. (Even if this backstory does not make it into the actual book, we need to know it.) If we treat them like real people in our head, then hopefully they will translate as authentic people on the page.

When I start crafting my characters, I often begin with a simple sketch. This usually involves a big circle with the characters name in it, then branching arms as I list their qualities. Very high tech, I know. However, once this is done, I'm only left with a two-dimensional person. Okay, the guy is pig-headed, impatient, paranoid, etc. But why? This is where the work comes in. What made him that way? None of us exist in a vacuum, we are the way we are because of our experiences. So how do you dig deeper and find out?
One day when I was struggling with this, I started rifling through my psyc books from college. Then, I stumbled upon a paperback I bought when I first started interning as a counselor at the college counseling center. I was in panic at the time because I didn't feel prepared to offer people therapy yet, so I started looking for books that would help explain things in layman's terms. A cheat sheet, if you will.
I still feel sorry for those who were subjected to my inexperience during that year. The students knew they were seeing a grad student, but still, I was terrible. My first marriage counseling session with two grad students ended with the guy throwing his wedding ring at his wife (after she admitted to cheating with their roommate) and storming out with a threat of suicide. (I stopped him from leaving with the help of my supervisor, he was alright--although, I wasn't.)
Anyway, I bought the book Think Like a Shrink
to help. (Insert snort at the name--I know.) However, this has now turned out to be an invaluable resource for character backstory building. The chapters are barely a page long and cover the reasons why people act like they do. Some of the title chapters:
 
Those who don't remember their childhood may want to forget it

The ills of the mothers, or fathers, really are visited upon the children

Boundaries define people the way borders define countries

The way people feel about sex is critical to their psychology

Women do not suffer from penis envy nearly as much as men do

Needy people immediately create chaos in relationships

Don Juan had an absent father

An extramarital affair is less important than what led to it

Beware unsolicited denials

We can tell alot about people by the way they say goodbye

What is one the outside is often the exact opposite of what is one the inside

Vain people marry accessories

Those who can't get comfortable in their own skin may claw at others

People regress to earlier behaviors under stress

Doing nothing can be very pushy
I don't agree with everything this guy says. He can be a little Freudian at times, but a lot of it rings true. And anytime I pick it up it gives me great ideas for characters. I highly recommend it.
So what do you do to make your characters three-dimensional? Do you interview them? If so, how do you decide on the answers?