Getting to know your characters

Mirror MFI’ve updated my series timeline and character sheets with notes from the previous two books in my series to insure accuracy and consistency as I finalize my outline and prepare to start the first draft of book three. (That was a mouthful. Sorry.)

And what did I find? That I don’t know my characters as well as I think I do.

How can this be? I created them. I birthed them from my fantastic imagination. They are parts of me.

True, and yet when looking at my character sheet for my main hero and the blank next to “purpose,” I know using “hero” as the answer is a cop out. Because I already know he’s the hero. That isn’t the question. What I really need to know is why he’s the hero.

That is a tough question. I don’t even know what my own purpose is in my life, even though I’m sure I must be the heroine of my life . Geez. This is a lot of pressure.

Let’s tackle the easy stuff first. Below is a list of the minimum information I need to know about each character I write.

  • Age
  • Appearance
  • Occupation
  • Family
  • Skills
  • Hobbies
  • Friends
  • Place of birth

Standard government form stuff.

Now a little deeper. When developing characters and what makes them tick, I need to know more than just the superficial. Below is a list of a few more details I need in order to develop a complex character.

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Dreams
  • Fears

Now for the big one.

  • Purpose

Again. This is a tough one. Here’s a few questions I’ve come up with to ask my character in the hopes of uncovering the meaning of his life.

  • What do you value most?
  • What brings you joy?
  • What are you searching for?
  • What are you running from?
  • What do you live for?
  • What are you willing to die for?

These are tough questions for anyone to answer. However, as I learn more about writing and developing characters, these are questions I need answers for.

The questions above are not the only questions I have on my character sheets, and I can’t take all the credit for coming up with them. My sheet is constantly evolving and has many sources. But as I learn more, I add to it.

The more you know, the more you know. Right? Shouldn’t the author know more about their characters than anyone?

Now for some soul searching.

Author Pic

I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and have a husband and two children. Music is an addiction. I can often be found in the car, singing along at the top of my lungs to whatever is playing. I work full time, and I split my spare time between family, reading, blogging, and writing. I’m a habitual quoter. Lines from films and TV shows constantly pop into my head—my kids are the only ones that really get it. I’m an only child, and so of course I married a man who is one of ten children. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. I love to travel, but don’t do enough of it. Reading has been a passion for most of my life and I now love writing. I’m klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.

Find me at

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