Writer, know thy character

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In my MFA program we are now working on…drum roll, please…CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.

Of all the different aspects of writing, character development is the one I feel I need to work on the most. Just how do you make your characters come to life? How do you make them real? How do you get your audience to understand and sympathize with the character?

So far, it seems that you must learn everything about them, and I do mean everything! During an earlier class I wrote a character bio for my main character, which included a brief history of her family.

Then I was asked to rewrite the bio, incorporating traits based on the four humors, her astrological sign, her Chinese zodiac, and her blood type.

Now I’m reading the theories of several different famous psychologists, trying to figure out why my character acts like she does, and I need to come up with a deep, dark secret about her that even she may not know!

At every step, we share our writing with our fellow students, and give and receive comments. Which we then use as we rewrite.

And we are far from done.

I must say, I do feel I know my protagonist very well now. I hope when I finally get to put her down on paper she will seem just as alive and real to everyone else!

Well, time to get back to work.

What do you think?