This guest post is by Brenda Janowitz, author of Scot on the Rocks, Jack with a Twist and THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB.
You simply cannot write a good novel without knowing your characters inside and out.
But your character studies don’t have to make their way into your WIP. In my current WIP, my character studies became part of the first draft.
I felt it was important to give the reader the back stories on my enormous cast of characters, to fully flesh out all of the players.
Clarify missed calls Did he take hours to call back? If you’re just someone he is having temporary fun with, he isn’t concerned about you getting pissed about those things.
But if he makes a point of saying, “Hey, sorry for taking so long, I was hung up in etc, etc” or “Oh my god I just realized you sent me a text when I was at work and I completely forgot to answer! ” then you’re not someone he is willing to let go of easily.
A few ground rules heading in (imagine a bespectacled man in an ill-fitting brown suit standing over me and dictating in a nasally voice): These answers are mine and mine alone, and I do not presume to speak for the industry at large (or for WD).
Then, when the dreaded writer’s block inevitably sets in, that’s when I’m able to take a step back and think about what I’m writing. Novelist Gillian Flynn wrote the most quoted part of her blockbuster, GONE GIRL, as a character study. Because of those character studies, I know my characters inside and out, and I think that when an author really knows her characters, truly knows them at their core, that comes out in the writing. Is she a 40 year old in the body of a sixteen year old, or vice versa?
There’s no need to step away from your computer—in fact, I find that when I’m blocked, walking away from the keyboard is the worst thing I can do. ( The “cool girl” speech was something she wrote when she was blocked, and it made its way into the finished product. With that in mind, here are the top 10 questions you need to be able to answer about each of your characters: 1.
(Men know how much delayed call or text-backs upset us).
Offer to help When you mention that you’re moving, or putting together some furniture, or looking for a new car, does he jump at the chance to help?