A Character Check List – Worth Trying Out
Quite a few years ago I spent some time buying and reading ‘self-help’ books about ‘how to write the perfect novel/screenplay/biography/autobiography’ and I read all these books from cover to cover. Some good, some hopeless. I’m sure you’ve been there and done that? I thought so.
And one thing that did stick in my mind, although I totally ignored it at the time as far as my writing was concerned, was a handy hint in several books that suggested that for every main character in your novel, script etc etc you should create a ‘Character Check List’. A list that you might write on a sheet of A4 paper and carry around with you on which you could list all of his/her traits….what kind of clothes they wear, what they like to drink, their favourite food, fast food restaurants, what they do at the weekend, car they drive, films they would not go to see, books they would read…..
Also, imagine what they would say if you asked them questions…like….”What’s your favourite toy from your childhood?” Now we’re really getting into the interesting areas.
I can hear you thinking….’It will never work’. However, I am here to tell you that it does work…and best of all…if you keep at it…it is FUN.
If you don’t believe me have a go yourself. But don’t go overboard. Pick just one character from your current novel or even make one up…I’m doing just that right now with a young character who will appear in my new children’s book. I’ve found out lots about him I never would have imagined and it is all information that is rounding him out as a real, living, breathing person, not just a cliche children’s book hero.
List everything and anything that springs to mind. Ask them questions. Interact with your character. Take them out for a meal (theoretically) and think about what you would chat about. But remember, this is supposed to be FUN, not hard work.
I guarantee that after a short while you will be hooked and the more you delve into the depths of your character the more you will understand him/her and this in turn will open up possibilities for new storylines and plot twists.