We’re all hard at work on our character trait lists (or interviews, or spreadsheets, or whatever route you’ve chosen) for Friday. I can’t wait to meet everybody’s characters, but I’m having more trouble than I expected boiling mine down to traits on a list without going off on a lot of tangents. So I started looking around the internet for useful tips from established writers.
Here’s Chuck Wendig on two nifty visual aids for writing characters: the mind map—a sort of visual-meets-textual reference of multiple characters’ basic traits—and a purely visual collection of abstract images that call to mind who a character is and what they mean to you. (Think character reference photos minus the fancasting.)
(Recommendation: a search for “character” on his blog Terrible Minds turned up a goldmine of useful posts, beginning with this one. I spent about an hour and a half reading as many as I could and furiously taking notes as they clarified things about my characters. Next free hour, give yourself the gift of a trip down that rabbit hole.)
Also helpful: random generators! I’ll admit this felt like cheating the first time it was suggested to me, but how different is it, really, from brainstorming with your writing group? This gathering of writing buddies is just made out of code, there’s no need for polite hemming and hawing when you’re handed a truly terrible idea, and sometimes you’ll turn up something utterly strange and brilliant and exactly what you didn’t know you needed. Here’s one from a whole wiki full of generators; my third or fourth refresh gave me a great idea for one of my more troublesome side characters, so consider me the quickest convert ever and hit me up in the comments with your favorite random writing generators.