Personal Traits and Deepening Characters

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

July question: What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?

Personal Traits & Deepening Characters

Currently writing a romance series of seven novellas, I’m starting the first draft of the fourth novella, Buried Hearts.

The first one, Shattered Dreams, is already published, with first drafts for the second and third, Burning Desire and Arrested Pleasures respectively written.

Because I’m writing the last first drafts of the last six before any more are published, it meant plotting the stories and creating the characters all at the same time.

Seven couples, seven romances, seven stories, with either the hero or heroine, if not both, all went to school together. Most were in the same graduating class, with two of them a class ahead of the rest. Some are best friends, some dated in high school, some wanted to date the other in high school but didn’t.

In Buried Hearts, Clint Anderson, a life-long resident of Laurel Ridge where all the stories take place, is giving a fiftieth wedding anniversary party for his parents and has hired balloonist, Gabriella (Gabby) King. He gets to know Gabby during the flight with his parents, and he’s smitten.

A long time ago, I learned when developing strong and interesting characters, I need to go deep. Down into the dark where their secrets are hidden. Secrets they haven’t talked about and feel ashamed to let others learn.

I learned that those secrets, those wounds drive that character. That secret determines how they act, what they do, what they wish for. Because I know all these things before I write word one, I’ve become a monster plotter.

Because all seven novellas take place within the same time period, I’m now in the process of plotting out their events on a monster spreadsheet. Did I tell you how much I love spreadsheets?

Plotting spreadsheet

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About Diana Stout

Screenwriter, author, former English professor
This entry was posted in Blogging, Characters, Inspiration, Laurel Ridge novellas, Motivation, Publishing books, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Personal Traits and Deepening Characters

  1. Boy was it hard to find the blog post! I agree that you have to ‘go deep’ to write characters well. Any character that is well developed will probably have a trait or two from the author whether that is intended or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Diana Stout says:

      Thanks for responding! This was the first time I put the IWSG blog on my actual writing blog page. Your saying how hard it is to find tells me I need to change the URL since the What’s New Blog is more about announcements. Thanks for letting me know!


  2. Kara O'Neal says:

    I love delving into characters and agree that it’s always better when we expose as much as we can about their flaws, etc. Characters always drive the story for me, even more so than plot. Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Diane Burton says:

    I don’t have the patience to wait while writing all the books in the series. I’d want to publish each as it’s done. lol Good luck as you write away.


    • Diane Burton says:

      BTW, I love spreadsheets, too. Easy to keep track of details.


      • Diana Stout says:

        Thanks, Diane. Normally, I would agree with you, but these drafts are so rough and feel unfinished and I know it’s because surprises are going to come from future books that will then allow me to thread them together far better than I can initially create.


  4. I have to work with super simple spreadsheets but I’m about to embark on a personal challenge, developing a series before starting the writing! I hope my muse can adapt!


  5. mlouisebarbourfundyblue says:

    I’m impressed that you can juggle six plots and six sets of characters, Diana! I’d have a spread sheet covering my kitchen floor. Good luck as you delve into the deep and dark, always the most interesting place to probe.


  6. Diana Stout says:

    Love it! I bet your muse will be delighted!


  7. pamelasthibodeaux says:

    Such a great post Diana!
    So true about going deep with characters, it makes for much more interesting reads
    Good luck and God’s blessings with your books!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t blame you for keeping a spreadsheet. That would be a lot to keep track of and it would be easy to mess up details.
    Welcome to the IWSG!


  9. Rebecca Douglass says:

    The spreadsheet is a great tool! (I wish I were a bit more organized that way–I just keep lists in Word files 😮 ). You are also admirably organized and patient to draft all the novellas before finalizing any of them. I haven’t written a series that is that connected (mine just ramble on from one to another), but it’s clear that to do something as complex as you are working on, being organized is key!


  10. Elizabeth Seckman says:

    I’ve never tried spreadsheets, but I have spent a lot of time mapping out timelines. Also a plotter who loves to pick apart the details.


    • Diana Stout says:

      Elizabeth, basically that’s what my spreadsheet is–a timeline where I’m fitting events into a certain length of time, making sure I don’t make any mistakes about an event’s timing. Thanks for responding!


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