Friday, October 19, 2012

Character Creation

How do you create an accurate portrait of a person using only words? That is the question that every writer must figure out for themselves and everyone does it in a different way.

My favorite way of getting into a character's head is through their back story. My theory is: if I know where they've been I can figure out where they're going. Or where they don't want to go. Then I make them go there and see how they react.

Except in ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE my main character, Annaliese, didn't have a back story because she didn't who she was. In fact, most of the story is her trying to figure out exactly who she is and what happened to her. And I had to figure it out too, right along with her. That made for a lot of surprises while I was writing.

For example, near the beginning of ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE, Annaliese finds out that the taste of chocolate makes her violently ill. When I wrote it, I didn't know how a little piece of chocolate could cause her to puke all over herself. It surprised and intrigued me and made me want to know more. So I kept writing, and I kept discovering more and more.

This is really my favorite way of creating a character - by just letting it happen organically. This way, I'm not really creating a character, so much as slowly meeting them and getting to know them over time.

Kate Karyus Quinn is an avid reader and menthol chapstick addict. She has lived in California and Tennessee, but recently made the move back to  her hometown of Buffalo, New York, with her husband and two children in tow. She promised them wonderful people, amazing food, and weather that would build character. Another Little Piece is her first novel.

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  1. Definitely one of the joys of drafting is meeting your characters, fully.

  2. Funny how characters can surprise you sometimes, isn't it? Thanks for the post, Kate!