How I Develop My Characters. Or Not.

I thought I’d tell you something about my writing process today. For me, it’s always exciting to find new characters, see their good and bad sides, their quirks and habits. But how exactly do I create them?

I don’t. Period. I don’t create them. Or sit down and think about how I need a character X.

But how do I get them then? That’s what I’ll talk about today.

The first thing when I get an idea for a new book, is a scene I have in my mind. It just pops up and I see something happen. (No, I don’t need my meds, that’s pretty common among authors!). So I have a scene or two. And based on this, my mind develops more and more of the plot line. I have, at this point, no real clue what this story will be about. Nor do I know anything about the characters. Just a general feeling and something that is best described as vague direction.

Soon after the first scenes come up, I start to feel how my characters are. Some special traits develop, like I suddenly know why a character reacts to certain triggers. I get more and more of the past of my characters, what they experienced and how they deal with certain things. What they like or don’t like. These points, how small they are, are jotted down on my notepad. Then I start plotting in earnest. I posted about that recently, so I will not talk about that again (don’t want to bore you more than necessary 🙂 )

As soon as my piece of art is done, I know basically where I want to go and what should happen in the story (it never does, since my guys refuse to believe this is the way to go, but I still try!). I also have, thanks to plotting, a better idea how my character should be. Please notice the ‘should’. I’ll tell you why soon.

I can start writing then. Or better, I just do. I sit down and crank out say something between 5000 and 15000 words. And sometime during these thousands of words, something happens. My characters stop behaving the way I think they should, and start to actually act. (Still not time for meds! Just writing reality…) This is the point at which I feel them, where I ‘get’ their voice and their emotions. It’s a magical moment, because until then, the character was there, in my mind, but he was flat and boring.

At the moment he takes over the story, he tells HIS point of view, not mine. He has his voice, his opinion.

Although, I admit that this is usually the point where I seriously start doubting my writing, since I can forget all my plotting.  My character dictates what happens now, and it might be that I have to write the story from only one POV (happened in Never Wrong). Or that I seriously have to rework the beginning of a novel (see my post of Plotting my novel More again). This is usually the part I don’t like, but I know that my characters simply do know better. 🙂 Or refuse to listen to me.

Now you know how my characters find me, and how I don’t do much to develop them. I just hand them over the reins and they say what needs to be said.

I hope you found it interesting. I would love to know how you do it, if you are writing yourself. And if you’re a reader, is it interesting for you to see how it works?


I wish you a nice weekend from Germany, which is way too cold tonight.




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