7 Ways to Create Original Characters

Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.

—Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I recently read and enjoyed Brandilyn Collins’ Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors. In her book Collins explains how the method acting theory can help writers create interesting, original characters. She doesn’t advocate going to extremes (like Christian Bale when he lost a third of his bodyweight for The Machinist or Robert DeNiro when he paid a dentist $20,000 to ruin his teeth for Cape Fear), but she offers helpful ways to flesh out three-dimensional characters beyond the typical, bland advice of “keep a journal for your character.” She titles her seven secrets:

  1. Personalizing
  2. Action Objectives
  3. Subtexting
  4. Coloring Passions
  5. Inner Rhythm
  6. Restraint and Control
  7. Emotion Memory

If you want to take your character development to the next level, check out Getting into Character.