Opening Writers’ Digest Guide to Character Traits by Linda Edelstein at the table of content immediately hooked my interest, with chapter 1 telling me I would learn about creating real people for my novels. Other chapters tease me hints of how to turn my characters into people with all manner of flaws.
This alone excites any novelist, author and aspiring writers when they are piecing together the puzzle of their new book. What makes a man have an affair? Or why a woman stalks her former love. And what motivates a person’s behaviour.
Linda dives straight into a writer’s psyche, telling us that the huge amount of psychological research and vast vats of data can help writers to create authentic characters.
Her own experience working with people gives her the insight into the interior lives of real people and what makes them happy, sad, what motivates them and brings them to a screeching halt.
With Linda you will address the millions of questions that mull around your mind when first that new fictional character pops into your head and although you are creating a fictional character, in essense you start creating their life.
Your imagination will spark when you root through Linda’s Big Index. Take the trait ‘Blame’ for example. It offers ‘blame of others’ or ‘blame of self’. Choose one and then slip over to the references Linda gives you for that trait and the different types.
As you leaf through the pages so too will you tiptoes through the many layers of personality traits to give your character’s habits, behaviours and psychological puzzles.
Double check traits for your existing characters, as well, those characters who stubbornly refuse to be more than a cardboard cut-out. Now you can make them living breathing people. You can see how real people behave with certain traits and then give your novel’s people a hoard of behavioural possibilities, be they normal or extreme.
The wealth of information you have at your writing-tips is enormous. Take Linda’s types of murderers – argumentative murderers have different traits to say a domestic murderer or incidental or passionate murderer. A male and female again have different traits and issues and you’ll even find ways to inject sexual issues into your goodies and baddies.
Sleeping problems? Not you – your character. Read about this and other issues and then decide how you can layer your character with disorders and influences that drives them to be that brilliant baddie squatting in your head.
And if you're planning to write the next 50 Shades of Grey, sneak over here when no one is looking and take a peek at three sexy little books that will help you on the way to Grey Fame.
Warning! Don’t start writing that novel until you’ve used Linda’s character traits to make a real life for the people in your novel.