The general advice on character development is to KNOW YOUR CHARACTERS!!!! Know everything about them – their likes, dislikes, fears, nightmares, loves, passions, favourite colour, favourite food, whether they’re a secret chocoholic or a vegan with a burger fetish. Know it ALL!
But as I’m writing the second draft of my novel a few surprises are sneaking in. My character is behaving differently and doing things I don’t expect. I like it. His thoughts, actions and responses make sense. But they’re still unexpected. So, I had to ask, do I not my character well enough?
Then I thought about my very best friends and more important, my husband of 20 years! He still surprises me! Does things I don’t expect. Behaves in ways that make me go “eh!?”. I like that too.
So maybe it’s not realistic to know our characters so well that they can’t surprise us any more. Maybe we should know them just about as well as we know our best friends. That way, when their story takes twists and turns, we don’t have to force a solution, we can leave it to our characters, stand back a little, and see what they’ll do.
Happy writing today. I hope your characters freak you out just a bit!
P.S. In case you want to go all out, below is a document with 108 questions you can ask your characters (editable .doc and .pdf). If they have any sense, they tell you to stop being nosy and won’t answer you! But it might nudge them out of their cocoons if they’re shy.