Monday, October 8, 2012

Character Profiling

Developing your characters is an intense activity all writers undertake in one manner or another. It is often the most difficult part of creating a story because you have to create an entirely new person. Laboring pains are never expected but are oh so excruciating. There are ways to lessen that pain but sometimes I wonder if it is really worth it.
Now, first let me state for the record I have delivered two children el natural, no drugs. I wasn't the 'I am woman, here me roar' lady. Nope; I was terrified of the needle in the back. It was only with my third child did I finally say “give me the drugs!”  Only it didn’t work out because not ten minutes after having the epidural was my child born. (What a friggin’ waste>$3000 to be exact!) So I’m one of those who often will opt out of the easy way out and will suffer through the pain. I know that isn't for everybody though.

Having said that, I have never been the kind to take advantage of those long questionnaires in which I fill out all sorts of questions to really get to know the characters I am working with. Okay, I take that back. I did do so...once. To tell you the truth I spent so much time getting to know my character that I was bored to death of her. I mean I don’t think I even want to know that much about myself. And I mean, does the reader really care what her teddy bear’s name was when she was seven or whether she swam at the local swimming pool every day every summer until she was sixteen? I understand if those details are important to the character development. I mean, maybe she only dated guys she met at the pool and that's where she met the serial killer. Who knows? But sometimes enough is too much! Really, come on! Ten pages of character development? Yowza! Even in my research I found remarks such as, “most of them won’t actually come up in the narrative (some of them will be so irrelevant to the actual story that you’ll be tempted not to answer)…(Research ).  Why the hell waste time on things I won’t even use? I mean, I have a book idea in my head and I need to write it. I don't want to prolong that because I feel I must know my characters every birthday party and what she wore for Halloween every year.

Truly, I believe I spent so much time ‘getting to know her’ that by the time I was ready to write the story…which was a really good storyline, I was sick to death of her. I couldn’t stand to be around her anymore. Maybe she wasn't the right character for the story and I should try to write it again...without her. Anyways, I’m all about opportunity. I mean, I was never one to work with outlines until this novel I am working on now. And it's done wonders for me! So for all those who haven’t tried character questionnaires, here are a set of links  of questions for you to spend all the time you could be actually writing your story but instead you are filling in the blanks and determining which middle school Pauly went to. Have fun!

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