By: James Scott Bell
Virtually all books on character creation contain a list of questions, a “dossier” to fill out which starts with how a character looks, where he was born, and so on through his family circumstances, education, likes and dislikes, etc.
I have not found such forms helpful. It may just be a personal quirk, but I’m never excited about filling out answers to questions.
First of all, too many answers too soon might hinder the development of a character. A book is a living, breathing entity. If I have a long list of facts for a character before I begin writing, it hamstrings me. I may want the character to do one thing or another, but the dossier is set and works against me.
Consequently, I’ve come up with my own way of bringing story people to the page. It starts with my protagonist and finding a visual (a head shot) that resonates with me, that says to me, This is her! I copy that image and paste it on a character card in Scrivener (this way, I can look at a
corkboard of all my
characters at once).
Next, I want a unique voice, and that comes from a Voice Journal, a free-form document of the character talking to me. . .
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