Monday, November 21, 2016

Timeless blog tour - 3 Approaches to Developing Characters

Welcome Crystal Collier here today to share her new book and some writing tips!

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.
In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

BUY: Amazon | B&N

3 Approaches to Developing Characters
(For Different Types of Learners)

Thank you Christine for having me here today!

As a home schooling mother, I've learned THE HARD WAY that everyone has a different learning system. What works for one person probably won't work for another, so I'd like to suggest some approaches to creating/deepening characters that work for different types of thinkers.

First of all, when writing characters we need to be in their heads. Pure psychology here. That means we need to have a solid grasp of (in no particular order):
  • what they look like
  • how that has affected their place in society/self image
  • what their greatest fear is
  • what their greatest desire is
  • where they live/work/go to school
  • who they rub shoulders with every day
  • hates/loves/interests & hobbies
  • their greatest strengths
  • their greatest flaws
That seems like quite a bit of information, and it is, but if we want solid characters, we need to do the leg work (ahem, research). So here are some tools/approaches for developing characters based on different learning approaches:

1. Get Visual. Do you get totally inspired by pictures? Do they spring stories in your head? Do you think in images? I'm quite visual, and Pinterest & google search are my best friends. You can look for someone based on their characteristics in Pinterest, and seeing them may help formulate their style, demeanor, and values. Search further to find a room or house that looks like where you imagine them living, discover people who look like their family, track down that piece of jewelry or keepsakes that defines them. Creating Pinterest boards is one way to brainstorm. Or, if you gather up junk magazines (or the "throw aways" from a doctors office), you can make a collage.

2. Hear that? Auditory learners retain information from hearing it. (That means those teacher lectures totally bring information home for you.) If this is your strength, try people watching. Eaves drop. (Yes, I'm giving you permission.) Listen to YouTube videos of people who resemble your characters or share interests. Try turning down the volume and speaking for them. Compile a playlist that your character would geek out over. Listen to pod casts from people who share interests with your characters. Talk out your thoughts with another person and have them be your sounding board. If your character is based off someone in your life, record them doing things, discreetly. Get their unique responses to questions. Dictate your ideas into a recorder, or tell yourself about the character.

3. You just Got to Move! Kinesthetic learners are the hardest to get through a public education system. (Believe me, I know.) But movement is a method of learning. Try brainstorming while working out/jogging/etc. Act out a scene and fill your character's footsteps. (I'm not kidding. Find a room with a locked door if you're paranoid. I've done this and it is AMAZING.) Play your character's favorite sport. Paint, draw, photograph, or model with clay potential aspects of your character (such as a home, favorite place to go, a scene in your story). Build or craft something your character might use. TYPE. Get those fingers moving. If needs be, use a yoga ball to sit on rather than a chair. Try handwriting things with a marker if it's more comfortable.

And just for fun, want to know where my two main characters in the Maiden of Time series came from? I met Alexia through my dreams (2002), and Kiren from blind writing back in 1994. (They're getting so old!) I loved them both at first scene, but it took years of writing them to truly know them. I suppose that's why there's so much elation at FINALLY finishing their saga in TIMELESS. *tosses cheese confetti* It's going to be hard to set them aside to develop other writerly loves.

What methods have you used for developing characters that REALLY works?

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

You can find her on her and her books online HERE.

(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)


  1. Great post, Christine. I love teaching and when I'm in the classroom, I try to blend in all sorts of methods to maximise the enjoyment of learning. Great tips Crystal. Wishing you both a very happy and fun Thanksgiving!!

  2. Fantastic post, Crystal! You really made me think. You are an amazing mom and homeschooler. Don't know how you do it.

  3. Thanks, Nicola!

    Yvonne, glad to provide it.

    Sheri, LOL! Some days we're better than others. Thank goodness they all average out. ;)

  4. Super helpful post, Crystal! It really is an adventure attempting to capture different learning styles in a classroom. Love the kinesthetic ideas!

  5. Homeschooling is a full time job, Crystal, but you do that and write super books. Can you give us your secret, super power-vitamin regime?

    Thanks for the great post. I totally agree about appealing to as many modalities as possible when teaching anything, and it's perfect to apply that technique to characterization.

  6. Thanks, Meradeth. You're not kidding! Story of my life. ;)

    Lee...erm, I thought I'd let the secret slip a few times. CHEESE!!!! ;)

  7. Very interesting post about learning styles. I think I combine all of them. When stuck on a plot point, going for a swim or jog is where I usually work it out.

  8. Susan, that's awesome that physical activity gets your brain going. I typically get so involved in my workout that I forget to plot. LOL.

    Juneta, thanks!

  9. Thank you so much, Christine, for sharing these tips with your followers. I agree that everyone learns differently. My oldest is perceptual impaired. I've assisted in her education her whole life. Happy Thanksgiving, Christine!

  10. For the visual part, actors help me a lot. They are the ones I imagine are my characters at first. Then my characters change to their own person as I get to know them better. :)

  11. I'd never thought of acting out my character. You wise woman! I love that idea.

  12. Victoria! You did come over from my blog. Awesome to see you here!

    Chrys--I totally get that. My problem is that no actor or actress EVER matches my vision of a character 100%. Or even 80%.

    Elizabeth, this is what comes of having a drama background I suppose. (Musical theater: acting, writing, directing, composing, lyric work.) It was either books or theater for me, but books won.

  13. What a fun day! Thanks for guest posting on my blog, Crystal. You're awesome! You can come back any time. :) And thank you to everyone for stopping by.

  14. Great tips! I most definitely do not learn by listening. My brain shuts down if I don't doodle, doodle, doodle the whole time someone is talking to me, since it allows me to split my attention enough to keep focused. Sounds the opposite of how it should work, I know, but it's what works!

  15. great advice. I especially like the different ways to get to know your characters. I might even try a few! (gasp).

  16. Christine, you rock! You are the best hostess.

    Shannon, that doesn't sound so crazy to me. I have 3 kids with 3 different learning styles, and we've toyed around all different kinds of approaches to help them focus.

    Lyn, *gasp* No! ;)

  17. What a great bunch of tips! I think I must be an auditory learner, as I do love to eavesdrop, but I think I have to try acting out scenes, especially as I used to be into drama too.

  18. Nick, it's one of the funnest tools I've used by far. (Drama geek here too!)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.