Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Connecting Your Characters


I love the joke: Who’s on first, What’s on second, and I Don’t Know’s on third by Abbott and Costello. We’ll that applies to writing! Knowing your characters is half the fun, but knowing the character’s purpose and how they connect to the others in the story is key, too.

In a story, all the characters somehow relate to each other and each character should have a distinct purpose in the story. Your characters should be interconnected and through their actions or reactions, events unfold and the characters grow.

When I wrote my mystery, I really needed a visual to show how and why my characters related to each other- kind of like the game of Clue.

So I created a diagram like this:

Once I had all the characters in their bubbles, then I wrote on the line how the two were connected.

Looks something like this:

Now as you can imagine, this can get quite complicated, so you’ll need to put it on a big piece of paper. And soon you’ll have lines running all over the place. But it’s a great way to make sure that each character in the story affects the other characters in some way.

Some questions you can ask yourself as you write:
Does every character have a purpose?
Is that character absolutely necessary? Would the story be weaker without them?
Does the character change the direction of the main character in a small or large way?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea 04.06.10 at 6:43 am

Christy, this is a strategy I haven’t seen before. I would find this really useful for analyzing a completed novel, to make sure there aren’t any characters that have only a minimal impact on the story. Thanks for sharing!

Carmella 04.06.10 at 7:01 am

Thanks for sharing! I think I’ll try this with the book I’m working on. I agree with Andrea, it would probably be quite helpful to look at a completed novel, too.

Christina 04.06.10 at 2:16 pm

If you click on the pictures, you can see the diagrams better. They seem kind of blurry otherwise.

Kate Fall 04.06.10 at 4:09 pm

It’s hard to kill off a character once you get attached. The sooner you figure out to chop out those duplicate characters, the better!

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