It’ll happen to you someday. While creating your latest secondary character, who will eventually become a primary character, you draw a blank.
Oh, you have the name, and a good idea of what they look like, but what makes them tick? What are their mannerisms?
Now those are two different character traits. One is based on motivation (abandonment issues), the other is a characteristic (hair twirler).
No problem, you’ve lived some years; you can make things up. Except…you can’t. You’ve used up all your own motivations. You can only address that bully in school for so long. You’ve even used all your own characteristics from your love for cake to your twitchy right leg. You’ve got nothing left in you. So it’s time to use your friends and family and reveal their likes/dislikes and their mannerisms.
Except, you’ve already run the gamut of relations and friends. Even your great Aunt Maude, who reportedly had three teeth and chuckled, was used for that hag in book three. You could watch people at airports, but you know from that brief observance you can’t glean the depth your character deserves.
Something more is needed. Long ago, a fellow writer confessed to using Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs for creating characters. Easy enough, and incredibly helpful. Suddenly character motivations can be determined if you make their birthday in May, and know they are a Taurus. Your character can now be bull-headed and loyal.
Except Sun Signs, as brilliant and useful as it is, doesn’t address the breadth of mannerisms needed when creating characters. Neither does Love Signs, which explores the different signs in relationships.
To make your character distinct from every character you’ve written, you need even more depth. My tip? Birthday books.
These books are a wealth of quick information for 365 days of the year. That’s 365 distinct personalities. Some of them are detailed enough to give you motivation and characteristics. Do I recommend one book? No. Because you can’t get the depth you need from only one.
For example, I’ll use the birthday of November 11th. The astrological sign is a Scorpio. According to one book, it says: If sports isn’t your career, it should be your hobby. However, another book says: You’re defensive and suspicious. Both those reveals are gold when creating a character. And that character won’t match your other characters because they won’t share the same birthdate (I do recommend marking the birthdays you use).
So what happens when I’ve used up all the dates? I’ve thought of this, but I have no worries. I’ll probably be too doddering to remember, and will gleefully write them again.***
Nicole first discovered romance novels hidden in her grandmother's closet. Convinced hidden books must be better, Nicole greedily read them. It was only natural she should start writing them (but now not so secretly). If she isn't working on the next book in the Lovers and Legends historical series, she can be reached at:
A maiden for the mercenary
Mercenary knight Rhain is living on borrowed time. With a vengeful warlord pursuing him, he has accepted his fate—though first he must get his men to safety.
When he rescues mysterious and deeply scarred Helissent from her attackers, Rhain soon wishes he wasn't marked for death. He can never be the man she deserves—his scandalous lineage alone dictates that—but Rhain can't resist the temptation to show this innocent maiden how beautiful she truly is…
Lovers and Legends A clash of Celtic passions
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How about you? Have you heard of birthday books? Used them? Planning on trying it now?