Purple Prose + Novel

The Twelve Days of Christmas for Writers: Day Four

Once upon I time, I queried a big time agent and landed a partial request*. A month later, a rejection landed in my inbox. My characterizations were weak. After bawling into a box of Kleenexes After deciding the agent was the most wonderful person alive (because not only did she not send me a form rejection, she was right), I searched for ways to make my characterizations kickass strong.

During that time, I fell in love with several craft books on the topic:

Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors by Brandilyn Collins.

I’ve blogged about this book before. My favorite chapter (the first one) contains an exercise to help you get to know your characters better. Better than by simply filling in a questionnaire or conducting an interview. It’s not a quick exercise, and you really have to think. But it will help you delve deeper into your characterizations. It’s a technique used by award winning actors when preparing for a role. And for those of you who aren’t plotters, you can do the exercise after your first draft.

Breathing Life Into Your Characters: How to Give Your Characters Emotional & Psychological Depth by Rachel Ballon

This is another book I’ve blogged about. It, too, is filled with advice and exercises to help you create rich characters (including the bad guys).

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Mass.

The first part of the workbook contains twelve through-provoking chapters with exercises to ensure all your characters are dimensional. They can be done either before you start the first draft or afterwards. Check out thispost for an example of the type of exercises you can expect from the book.

There isn’t one book I prefer over the others. I use all three when creating my characters. I truly do believe they made a huge difference.

(*this book was eventually shelved for good reason)


On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .

Three books for kickass characterizations,
Tons of yummy chocolate,
AquaNotes, so you can brainstorm in the shower,
And Margie Lawson’s awesome lecture notes.

*Cringes at how awful that would sound when sung*

Do you have a favorite technique for creating characters?

12 days of Christmas, award, book, characterization, favorite, L — Logic, and more:

The Twelve Days of Christmas for Writers: Day Four + Novel