For me, the first step in beginning any new project is fleshing out my characters. I spend a lot of time mulling over not just each character’s personal appearance (which, honestly, could change anyway) but also his/her personality traits, quirks, nervous habits, taste in clothes and music, favorite movies, and so on — even if none of these things will even come into play in the novel.
Unfortunately, even after all the time I spend developing my characters before I start writing, I sometimes end up in the middle of the manuscript and realize I need to add more depth. In such cases, it’s nice to have a few resources on hand to help generate some ideas.
One book I’ve come across that’s been a great reference for character development is Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, PhD.
Topics covered include personality traits, psychological disorders, criminal types, career traits, and communication styles, just to name a few. Need to figure out which character traits correspond to a particular virtue? Covered in Chapter 2. Trying to determine which variety of stalker is preying on your protagonist? Chapter 5.
Bottom line–if you’re trying to come up with believable characters who pop off the page, Writer’s Guide to Character Traits could definitely give you some pointers.
Give it a try!
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