Character Development

Developing your characters

What do you use to bring your characters to life for yourself as you write? What tricks or techniques do you use to guide your development of their personalities and goals?

Now, this may not apply is you are more of a plot oriented writer. But even then, what do you use to set the mood so to speak?

When I am writing, I do not like distractions. Unless I am in a noisy environment like a coffee shop or other public space, I rarely have any music or any other distraction on. I do not turn on the television or play music except to tune out other interruptions. However, the way I get really into my characters is through music.

This is not as contradictory as it sounds. I am a character based writer, characters first, plot second. It is why my attempts at detailed outlining fail so miserably. My characters take the reins and run away on me far more often than I like to admit.

I like to make my characters and let them live in my head for a while, even in the middle of a project, so to really get into the right head space to decide where they need to go next, I like to have a song or two that “describes” the character for me.

Kryos character development

When Rikke and I were writing Kryos, I had a specific song for each of the two main characters. Ezra had Sail by AWOL Nation and Isaac had Indestructable by Disturbed. My choice of music for Isaac was not the same as Rikke’s though, it was just what fit him best for me.

I had Sail for Ezra because he is young and high strung with a poor understanding of how to really relate to other people. He can only see things from what it will get him, so his relationship with Isaac is completely new territory for him.

Isaac on the other hand, I chose his song to describe how he is now, not what he real character is.  We were not able to show who he really was in Kryos, but before his life with the Collector, he was actually a very gentle and peaceful man. Who he is in Kryos is NOT the same person. He has become hard, and violent, and the song portrayed that well for me.


I am fairly far along in my current project, Bloodlines, but only recently found the music for the main character, Adrian. I actually have the first draft done, and through a round of critique, so this is a little late in the process. The problem was finding something that accurately described his arrogance and single mindedness. While having a tough week at the office, I found it! Hello, Seether and Out of My Way! Sometimes you need good angry music to get through a work week, and sometimes you find a bonus in with it.

I really want to find something for dear sweet Oliver, but have had no luck. I need something that represents his sweet nature, but also the fact that he is no where near as naive and innocent as people think. They just don’t give him enough credit. I have another long work week ahead. Maybe I can find something.

I am curious though. What do others use to help them with their character development, settings, mood, or any other parts of their stories? Music? Art work? Movies? I really would like to know. Anyone reading this, feel free to jump in and tell us!

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