June 3, 2019

Getting to Know Your Characters

By T.I. Lowe

Occasionally, the first introduction to a new acquaintance can produce an instant connection and easy camaraderie, but most times it does not. The journey to friendship takes effort and may not always happen effortlessly, but it will cultivate a deeper root system that can withstand the test of time. These roots are nourished through investing in quality time together where you can discover likes, dislikes, family history, talents, quirks, hobbies, flaws, etc.

I approach relationships with my characters much the same way, spending quality time with them long before I sit down at the computer to start typing. This is accomplished through journaling and research on the characters’ particular issues that we will address in the book, their flaws, the region where they live, and anything else they feel the need to tell me. Fun part is, sometimes they tell secrets only to me that are never meant to be shared in the book but help me understand them on a deeper level.

The connections with my characters at times has left me in tears or made me mad at them, but we’ve also shared many laughs along the way. I don’t want to just write their stories, but to also experience them. My goal is to pass this along to my readers so that they can experience the story and form deep connections with the characters.

At the moment, I have three journals for three different stories and have been getting to know those characters for a few years now. They keep explaining to me that they are not ready to share their stories with the world but invite me to spend more time with them. And so that’s what I’m doing. It may seem daunting to invest so much time in character development, but it can be the difference between having a person readers will root for and miss once they are gone and having a flat non- dimensional character no one will bother to remember.

I rushed this process just last year, making me that fickle friend who doesn’t keep in touch or hold to their promises of getting together. And boy, did the story suffer because of my neglect. One character is passive and shy, but I never gave her the chance to explain why. Thankfully, during rewrites, I took the time to reconnect with her and was amazed at the secrets she hadn’t had the opportunity to share with me.

Whether you are a plot-driven or character-driven writer, well-developed characters are pivotal to any story. So slow down and take the time to have a chat with your characters. I bet you’ll be surprised what they want to share with you.
T. I. Lowe is a native of coastal South Carolina. She attended Coastal Carolina University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she majored in psychology but excelled in creative writing. Go figure. Writing was always a dream, and she finally took a leap of faith in 2014 and independently published her first novel, Lulu’s Café, which quickly became a bestseller. Now the author of ten published novels with hundreds of thousands of copies sold, she knows she’s just getting started and has many more stories to tell. A wife and mother who’s active in her church community, she resides near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with her family. Social Media Links: T.I. Lowe’s website  Goodreads

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