I once asked a good author friend of mine about his process for writing books. He told me, "First, I make a list of ALL the characters that will play a role in my story. Then, I sketch them..."
He's a graphic novelist, so I think he literally sketches them out, but you don't have to be a good drawer, which is good news for me because I'm a terrible artist, to sketch a character. When we talk about "sketching" characters, we're talking about creating characters--- the physical traits as well as the internal traits.
Oftentimes, I don't know who's in the story until I start writing. With one NanoWriMo experience (November 2016) under my belt (30,000 words!) and currently in the midst of the beginnings of my first CampNaNoWriMo, I've learned a couple tricks for building better characters. I used to think writing out what I already know about my character is a waste of time, but I've learned that it really isn't.
Googling pictures help! Say I need a teacher, and I'm not sure what the teacher will be like, I'll google "teacher" images and see what pops up. Then, I'll describe the picture, and from the picture I can come up with personality traits as well. Even if I know my character, having a picture makes it more "real" for me, so I've been trying to add pictures for all my characters, even the minor ones.
In a previous blog, I talked about writing pen pal letters to and from my characters. I find that's a great way to get to know a character. But for my major key players, I like to sit down and interview them. And, it's more than just asking, "what's your favorite color?" or "who's your best friend?" Really dig into their character.
I picked up this template sometime last year... somewhere. I really like it! You are welcome to use it, and always feel free to ask follow up questions, etc. Enjoy, and happy character sketching! Remember--- the more you know your character, the more they can tell you their stories!
In what situation is your self esteem most at risk?
What are you keeping a secret?
What are you lying to yourself about? To others?
Is there anyone in your life that you are attracted to?
How do you decide if you can trust someone?
How do you know you love someone and/or when someone loves you?
When you walk into a room what do you notice first? Second?
How would you change the world? The things around you? The people around you?
How do you learn best?
What are your goals in life?
What unusual hobbies or interests do you have?
What are you most afraid of?
If you had one wish, what would it be?
What do you like best about yourself?
What do you like least about yourself?
What do you think other people think of you?
What’s your greatest source of frustration?
What’s your greatest source of joy?
What are you especially proud of in your life?
If you could change anything about your life what would it be?
"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down... and bleed."
"Mongkonk Street, Hong Kong"