“You never really understand a person until you
consider things from his point of view… Until you
climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
Welcome to the latest installment in my series of Motivations Quotes for Writers and Creatives working on a big project, especially writing a book. This is my theme for the 2019 Blogging A-Z April Challenge.
Today, we’re up to K, which must be around halfway. So, I can let out a loud cheer for getting this far, because I almost didn’t take part this year as I’m deeply immersed in working on my book.
I have a background in sales and one of the things they really used to hammer into us, was to know your product. As writers, we also need to know our product in addition to our craft and that includes knowing your characters and knowing them well.
One of the tools I’ve used on and off has been the Proust Questionnaire. The Proust Questionnaire was originally a parlor game, which was popularized although not devised by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist. Proust believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature. As writers, asking our characters these questions can help us develop more interesting, dynamic and effective characters in our work.
If you’re interested in checking out the Proust Questionnaire, you can explore the Vanity Fair version Here.
Here are a few other quotes I found about developing characters:
“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”
― Death in the Afternoon
“Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
― Zen in the Art of Writing
“Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”
― Happy Homes and the Hearts That Make Them
“I don’t know where people got the idea that characters in books are supposed to be likable. Books are not in the business of creating merely likeable characters with whom you can have some simple identification with. Books are in the business of creating great stories that make you’re brain go ahhbdgbdmerhbergurhbudgerbudbaaarr.”
Lastly, while I was trawling around the Internet in search of quotes, I came across this fabulous quote about knowledge, which kind of touches on developing our characters but I feel also adds an important quality to our writing:
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
After all, if we really care about our characters and their wellbeing and what’s happening to them, that will draw the reader inside that vision which is what great writing is all about. It’s not just about us fulfilling our ambitions. Indeed, for the person paying good money for your book and not someone else’s, you don’t factor into the equation.
Do you have any tips for developing characters? What works for you?
Thank you for joining on this journey through the alphabet and I hope you are feeling encouraged psychologically while hopefully also taking some action steps.