by Alison Janssen
Today I'm flying to Vermont to watch my sister graduate from CCS. I am so incredibly proud of her, and I can't wait to see her thesis up close and in person. My little sister is going to be a MASTER!
In case you haven't yet checked out her blog, where you can see a good portion of her thesis, I of course suggest you click this link.
Beth works in graphic novels, and she based her thesis on her childhood and our mom's childhood. So naturally, she had a pretty good idea of who her characters were before she started. But she also took a ton of time to ask us questions, collect memories, and prepare character sketches of us over the years.
Here's the sketch she did of my character over the years:
So what does this have to do with you, and your writing?
Well, have you made character sketches of your protagonist and antagonist? Have you made character sketches of your protagonist's love interest, his ex-girlfriend, and his mom? His mail carrier and his dog?
I don't mean actual drawings, like Beth did. (Unless you want to do drawings, too, which in that case go ahead!) I mean have you taken time to think about the formative events in your characters' lives, and have you written down when they happened? Do you know your characters, even the minor players?
You're the Master of the Universe when it comes to your manuscript, but you can't claim that title without work. Whether it's a simple list of likes and dislikes or a complete dossier of date, time, and place of birth, height, hair color, weight, astrological sign, level of education, food allergies, favorite TV shows, and habits at the grocery store, it is *vital* that you know your characters well enough to tell the story.