Determining Your Protagonist’s Personality

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The wonderful thing about writing and blogging is all of you. I’m busy with NaNoWriMo prep (and not organizing my room like I should be), and I’m currently working on figuring out my main character. I know her name, a bit about her issues, and even what she looks like; but my next task is discovering her personality and what she is really like. It makes me wonder…

  • How does the protagonist’s personality affect the story?
  • Do I determine her personality and strictly write according to it, or will her personality develop as I write?
  • How the heck do I even determine a character’s personality?
  • What is personality?

Here’s where you all come in again. I love that I can be working on something, then I bump into an issue; but all I have to do is switch over to WordPress and ask for your all’s opinion. I love writers’ discussions, and I love hearing about how you write.

How do you write your characters and decide on their personality? Is it something you plan ahead of time? Or does it just appear somehow?

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15 responses »

  1. Considering that my first published book was written in the third person, about my life, the characters came naturally as a consequence. The characters in my third (in the making) book…hmm…they just appeared around the conception of the storyline and their personality is inspired from my observation of life in general, I guess. 🙂

      • Yes, sure. I mean, no one is perfect as to get it right just like that. It’s all a part of the process and one certainly has to revise and keep revising, especially when writing general fiction or even non-fiction novels. Of paramount importance also, is to get a second pair of eyes to look at the draft, because like me, when I get caught up in my work, I can’t always spot a simple mistake as a letter in the wrong place, even when I’ve gone over my work again and again. 🙂

      • What do you think is the most common mistake a writer makes when it comes to characters’ personalities? (Sorry, I really like interviewing writers. 🙂 )

      • I’m no expert on the subject, but I was having a discussion the other day with a prolific reader who said the mistake is ‘over-exaggerating’ the characters. Then again, that depends on what subject one is writing about. 🙂

  2. It just appears for me. I start writing, and usually have to return to the beginning and repair the early chapters. I know that isn’t a ton of help, but that’s what happens to me. It always happens with my main character, sometimes the support staff works right the first time.

    • Yeah, I totally understand. That’s the way it usually happens with me, but I’m trying to be all organized and planned out this time around. Planning the character is turning out to be a bit tricky.

      • I’ve tried it and failed. I wish you the best of luck. Part of what I enjoy is that bit of discovery as I write. I have a pretty detailed outline, but not for the characters.

  3. I plan out my characters before I lay a word on the blank page. Usually that character appears in my mind and I sit back and daydream about them. Somehow my mind puts everything together like the clothes they wear, the way they speak, and their personality. I always wonder what it would be like to sit right next to them and have a conversation. How do they see the world through their eyes? What are their fears, what do they enjoy? What has happened in their life to make them the way they are now?

    • Hm, I think I’m going to have to do some more daydreaming then. I mean, I have a vague idea of what she is like; but I want to be more specific and take notes and all that. But my mind is blanking a bit.
      Do you write a full character sketch or do you keep it in your mind?

    • Characters are so interesting because it’s almost like they’re real people. You can hardly force a personality on them. They just sort of appear, and it’s more like I’m discovering who they are, instead of me dictating their lives. It’s super fascinating. If you know what I mean…?

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