Characteristics of Characters

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"In order to develop a living, breathing, multi-faceted character, it is important to know way more about the character than you will ever use in the story" (Short Stories: 10 Tips for Novice Creative Writers Section 3: Developing Characters).

This is an excellent piece of advice.  I remember having to write two short stories for my creative writing class in high school, and one of the issues that I struggled with the most was making my characters come alive.  When I wrote the first draft, the characters in the story were nothing more than just names on a page.  Meaningless.  Even saying their names out loud did not help--they just sounded awkward and unimportant.  It was then that I realized that I had to make them become important.  I could throw in as many adjectives as I wanted to, but the character would never become real until I went beyond the story.  I myself had to believe that they were real people, that they could function in our society as true human beings. 

Now, before I write, I try to come up with a character and make a list of all the traits, memories, and important events in that person's life.  One of the items on the list will usually spark my idea for a story.  That is where I draw my inspiration from.  It all starts with the characters.

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Greta Carroll said:

Lauren, thanks for your comments, it might help me in my writing! You make a very good point, how can our characters come alive if we don’t believe they could be real ourselves? There seems to be a common thread in most of these posts on the tips, that planning before writing is really important!

Monica Reynolds said:

I am a young writer myself and I love to create my own characters. Tell me why personality is so important.

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