This post is by thriller author, Nicole Wilson.
While I was working on the first draft of my novel, I realized that, despite all of my planning, plotting, and outlining, I did not know who my characters were. Nor did I realize that I needed to know who they were. I figured they would just come alive in the story, take on a personality by themselves. Right?
Wrong. At least for me. There was no flair. No personal touches to any of the dialogue. Not until I got to a scene where I needed a guy in a mask did I add some personality traits to my characters. The guy ends up wearing a Reaver mask, which is an entity in the TV show Firefly. But two of my main characters recognize it as a Reaver, while another character simply thinks it’s a monster. This helped develop that the first two were 1) good friends, 2)Firefly fans, and 3) a little bit geeky. It also helped me see that the other character wasn’t into cult classics like Firefly and helped build her as an outsider in that relationship.
That one little entry into my story made me realize that I needed to really dig deep into my characters, especially since I’m planning other books with some of them. Once I finally did my digging, I felt like there was so much more that could be added to my story, whether it be backstory, little conversational bits, anything that allows the reader to bond with the characters.
To go about exploring my characters, I googled â€œcharacter profilesâ€ and found a ton of hits. I picked out three that seemed to be pretty extensive and combined them into one Excel spreadsheet for a total of 200-and-something questions. Good grief. I decided that I would answer these to the best of my ability, and that I would do the best I could, but I was not going to answer 200-plus questions for seven characters. No thanks.
Nicole Wilson is a thriller author, who loves her husband, Jesus, books, running, and Microsoft Excel. She has two short stories published and is at work on her first novel.