One Writer’s Journey

February 21, 2017

Character Development: What Can Your Characters Do?

lego-peopleIt isn’t surprising that writers frequently draw on themselves and their friends when they create characters.  Keeping that in mind, I guess it isn’t surprising than that so many characters, especially secondary characters like parents, are writers. But it does make me wonder when editors are going to start bouncing back writer characters as too common.

When you develop a character, brainstorm some of the things that you can do or have done.  Remember, leave writing off the list.  My own list of accomplishments would look something like this:

Jobs I’ve Held:


Candy striper

Archaeological Illustrator

Research Assistant

Asst Scout leader





Dye cloth



Use a bead loom

Free bead

Paint/houses and pictures



Bake a chicken in an earthen pit

Make bread from scratch

Cook down a pumpkin

Make butter




Re-assemble a pump (as in pump and cistern)

Do laundry using a wash board and water pumped from a cistern, heated in my great-grandmother’s kettle

Refinish furniture

Wire a house

Build furniture kits



Assist in digging a dry well

Make a pot from raw natural clay

Create a map from raw data

Assist in building a television from a kit — tube type obviously

Assist in installing a new car engine

Repack barrel bearings

Respool a fishing reel



This is definitely a more diverse list than my current primary job — writer.  Why not create a similiar list and use it the next time you develop a character?  You might also include things that your mother, father or grandparents could do.  That said, I’d have to do some serious research to make some of those skills available to my characters.  My mother was a top notch seamstress whereas I can sew on a button.  My grandfather was an army mechanic.  My father helped develop the ceramic tiles for the Space Shuttle.



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