Conference 2014 - Characterisation – Creating people readers really want to know
Report published 20 July 2014
The Sunday morning workshop led by Kate Long was all about knowing and thinking in-depth about your characters. After her fascinating introductory talk, we turned our attention to the hand-out Kate had prepared and were intrigued to discover a list of seemingly random questions that we were to answer about any one of our characters. It was a workshop that led to us all gaining a whole new level of understanding about our chosen character.
There were questions such as: What's the most disappointing Christmas present your character's ever received? What scent or smell makes your character's stomach turn over with anxiety? What's in your character's bathroom cabinet?
Kate said: “Look at what your characters were doing in their formative times – when they were growing up, even though you will never use these bits. You can use this exercise whether you're a planner or not. It makes you think about your characters before the story starts.”
With more than a dozen questions, we were given 15 minutes to answer them. It proved to be such a worthwhile task and for 15 minutes there was complete silence in the room as we all got to work writing.
“The more you ask of your character the more they will tell you,” added Kate who then invited people to share what they now knew about their character by delving so deep. The workshop concluded with us coming up with more questions to add to the list.
Amongst the gems of wisdom Kate commented: “ If you know your characters you will hear them speak to you. You want your characters carrying on living even after the reader has closed the book.”
Great workshop! Thank you Kate.
Report by Ann Evans