This month from Writer's Digest Magazine:
"You must think up those plot events that will affect your character enough for them to react with genuine change." According to W. Somerset Maugham, that's the secret to writing. And while I happen to believe there are many secrets to writing, this one illustrates why I love some books. It's because the character changes in some way, usually for the better. I guess I like to think (hope) that we're all trying to evolve and so I root for those characters who are trying.
The other gem I found was this: "Always keep firmly in mind that people read any novel, no matter the genre, to find out what is going to happen to a fascinating set of characters. And no, throwing something like magic into an otherwise dull-as-dirt character won't make her fascinating. She needs to be a fascinating person on her own."
To make your character fascinating enough Writer's Digest suggests starting with a set of questions, some of which I've listed below. I do something similar, but more involved, beginning with a complete character sketch that covers my character's entire personal history. One of my favorite books on this particular aspect of writing is THE WEEKEND NOVELIST by Robert J. Ray. He makes sketching your character fun. Plus he outlines how to write a novel in a year while only writing on weekends.
After that, I use K.M. Weiland's CRAFTING UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS, which is free to download. That gets to the meat of your character, asking questions like how ordinary she is, what she collects, and what was the worst thing she ever did. I love this tool and K.M is awesome for offering it for free.
Anyway. Here a few you might want to answer while writing your character's biography:
Birth Circumstances (that just brings forth all sorts of delicious ideas, doesn't it?)
Romance (secret crush? long time lover?)
Family/Friends (does she have any or is she a loner?)
Recurring dreams (I like this one because it's a good way to illustrate character AND let the reader know if the character is a little stressed without telling) Oh! Oh! I thought of one! It'll be about her family finding her or her finding them, a reunion of sorts - except of course she'll have no idea what they should look like or whether they want her back.
Care to share the answer to the above question for one of your characters?
Here are mine for Kai, the star of my new toy, which is still in development stages (and may never make it out - we'll see...).
1. she was bought in a market by Master Po, parentage unknown
2. none yet but she will...
3. No family, but she does have one friend, Jane
4. I haven't yet thought of a recurring dream but now that I've reminded myself I think I will :)