Twenty Ways to Build Character


Do your homework.

Writing is a hell of a tough racket, and if you’re lazy about it, it will defeat you so fast it’ll make your head spin.

So before you type Chapter One into that virginal word processor page—and then sit for weeks wondering what to do next—do your homework for each one of your characters. Write a character outline.

Nota bene: I didn’t say, “write a description.” Color of eyes and hair, height, weight, and so on, are not important. What matters is the inner character, the mind, the soul, and the handful of values she holds dear.

When you outline a personal history, none of those notes goes into the manuscript. If, as you do it, dialogue comes to you, write it down. Let it flow. The notes exist for your use only. Don’t be afraid to write the forbidden.

Then, when you begin Chapter One

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