Holt finalist!/writing tip

» Posted on Mar 28, 2005 in Blog | 3 comments

What the Heart Knows, my January 2004 Love Inspired, is a finalist in the Holt Medallion Contest for short inspirational category. With that said what I really want to talk about is character development. Over the next several weeks I will be talking about (not every post–just the writing tip ones) how to make your characters three dimensional.
Background/environment:

The past–your character’s background–is very important in molding who he is today. Where was he born? Lived most of his life? Is he from a small town or a big city? That will make a difference in your character’s outlook on life. Did he grow up in a family, foster care? What is his birth order–oldest, youngest in his family? What kind of environment did he grow up in–a nurturing home or a home where he got little love?

From all the question in the above paragraph you can see how essential it is to have a clear picture of your character’s background (childhood, teenage years). So much of what we are is formed during those times. Our dreams and fears develop then. I have to admit this is where I go first when coming up with a character and deciding what his goals, motivations and conflicts will be.

We’ve all seen the stories where we pit a city bred character against a country bred one because the differences are there to play off of. We’ve also seen a character who is street smart played off of a character who has a doctorate in something. Again all this comes from their background.

One of the biggest aspects of a person’s background that will shape him is his family so when coming up with your character really decide what kind of family he grew up in. Small family? Big? Loving? Cold? There are so many things you can do with this that his family life can be a big area to draw your goals, motivations and conflicts from.

For example: In SADIE’S HERO, my third Love Inspired book, my hero had a rough childhood. When he was young, he lost his family in a fire which he witnessed and had to stand helplessly by and watch everything he loved go up in flames. Then he was raised in foster families (many) where he caused problems. This made him driven to succeed at all costs which was one of the major issues in SADIE’S HERO. He became a workaholic, determined to make it to the top in the company he worked for to the exclusion of everything else. You can see how his background could be used for developing my plot in the book.

Think about one of your characters whom you are writing in your current book. Take a look at his background and make sure it is fully developed. The more it is the easier it will be to come up with your character’s goals, motivations and conflicts.

3 Comments

  1. Congratulations on finalling!!

  2. Congrats Margaret!!

  3. Suzanne and Heather, thanks!

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