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Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Writing Process: Characters

I have a bag of questions which have been posed to me on email, my Facebook page, and elsewhere which I will be drawing into as the blogathon continues. Here's one question I was asked: "Character building and voices: how do they relate to you?"

This is an excellent question. The answer is this: I have a vivid imagination. I draw up as many details as I can about the characters: their likes, their dislikes, and envision them in basic scenes such as a party, a coffeehouse, a club--anywhere where they would socialize and act the way they would act, and see what they would do under the circumstances. I daydream about conversations with them, how they would answer certain questions and discuss certain topics. In short, I try to make them as true to life as they would be if they were real and immerse my mind in that setting.

Some characters are easier to write about than others. Some will flat out take over my brain from start to finish. I've actually had dreams about my characters either before I started writing about them or during, and I'll readily admit that most of my inspiration comes from dreams. In one such dream, one of the main characters of Blood of the Dark Moon came to me and told me not only what was needed for the book to be finished but what would happen in its sequel. This is an extreme example but it shows how much I get into the act of world creating and how much the characters mean to me in that process.

I do my best not to argue with my Muse too much. I always start out with the sense of where I want my characters to wind up at the end but don't always know how I am going to get there. I may have scenes in mind, major events...but often other things come into play which determine additional plot in the book. In that event, I have to think of what needs to transpire in order to get the characters reacting in the right way so that they go where I want them to go.

This isn't always a straight line from A to B. There are moments when I want my characters to behave a certain way but given how I've made them, they just won't. This can be immensely frustrating. I could force it, but then it'd be that: forcing it. And I want my characters to be as true to life as possible. If I'm forcing them to behave a certain way, I'm not being true to them and it'll come across that way to the readers as well.

For the nit-picky details that get mentioned in a story, I take notes and refer to them. That way I remember that xyz character wears a size 8.5 shoe so that I don't say later that she wears a size 6. It helps to be consistent! I had to do this with the various degrees of the members of Clan Gladius within the Order of the Dragon and the Rose in Blood of the Dark Moon.

To set the mood as I write, I will sometimes make playlists on my iTunes of songs that remind me of the plot and characters. It helps me to create the tone I need as I write.

For writers: how do you create your characters? Do you have any other techniques or use the ones I have mentioned? For readers: what makes a character come alive to you? Have you ever been so immersed in a world of fiction that a fictional character turns into your own personal Muse?

Love & Magic,

Please Note: I am blogging on behalf of the Boston Rape Crisis Center, and if you wish to sponsor me in any dollar amount--none is too small, every bit counts!--please go here: then email me your receipt at so I can keep a running total. If you don't know what to put down for the donation, just put "Adrianne Brennan - Blogathon".


Jess said...

Good Morning! I will be your monitor for today's event. If for whatever reason (and you do not have to tell me) you do not want a monitor, just let me know.

Good luck and happy blogging!

Anonymous said...

Hi Adrienne, just read your blog about characters and how you create them. I am a visual person so I create my characters looks and actions first in my mind and then apply to paper. The series I am writing, "Chronicles of a Girl" is going in the direction I want, but definately takes some turns as dictated by the characters. :) I, like you, also make notes along the way about certain attributes and such. I also have music uploaded on my Ipod that I feel reflect some of my main characters and scenes, it helps me think through stuff before I put pen to paper.

Good with the blog, I hope it is a success for you and your charity!


Adrianne Brennan said...

Thanks Jess! I don't mind in the least; have fun and make yourself a cup of your favorite beverage. :)

Hi Mark! I'm a very visual person myself and I feel it's all of those details that make the difference. If I can write what I see and describe it, I'm good to go and I always aim to get better at it.

Thanks for the support, and I certainly hope it's a success as well! :D

Phelan said...

Morning. I am doing the blogathon as well. Just thought I was stop by and say hello and good luck!

Adrianne Brennan said...

Hey Phelan! Best of luck to you as well and glad to meet others doing this also! I've watched Shira do it for I don't even know how long and always wondered how to hop on board. Was VERY happy to do it this year!

Phelan said...

This is my 5th year doing it. about 4am things get a little silly with me. :D

How come you have a monitor? I have yet to see one at my place.

Adrianne Brennan said...

Hi Phelan! Five years? AWESOME, wtg!! That's really great.

I'm not sure why but it's cool. I expect a LOT of people from different backgrounds showing up as I've advertised for it everywhere and my social circles are, shall I say, interesting and diverse. It's not a bad thing and it may be a good thing in the long run.

Thanks again for stopping by. :D

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