In the midst of edits for book two of my Gulf Coast Rescue series, I’m revisiting some of my secondary characters with a critical eye. Is that character trait realistic? Is it the right trait?
With each book I write, my character development process is as varied as my plots. What worked for the last book doesn’t resonate for this one. I can’t decide if that is a good thing or not, but I have discovered a lot of ways to explore personalities and traits until I find the right combination for that particular character.
My villain, hero, and heroine receive the most attention since they tend to have the most “page” time. They also tend to be created from a combination of sources. I’ve melded traits from Myers-Briggs Type Indicator tests, archetypes (The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines by Cowden, LaFever, and Viders), personality types (Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Edelstein), birth signs and numerology (The Power of Birthdays, Stars, & Numbers by Crawford and Sullivan), and of course psychological studies (50 Psychology Classics by Butler-Bowdon) to name a few of my most common go to books. Another fun source is Enneagrams (from the Enneagram Institute). I attended a workshop on Enneagrams and have these very handy cards and decoder to help me pull together character traits. I especially like how they include healthy, average, and unhealthy traits for each personality. Because we all know, even our heroes have flaws, just as a villain can have a redeeming quality.
One of my concerns when creating a character is how realistic those traits are. Some traits are simply incompatible. You can’t be a true extrovert one moment and an introvert in another. You could only share some traits in the middle (since they are a continuum), but if you are on one end or the other, you won’t. I also don’t want to create a character that looks and sounds like a dozen others. I may see similarities in the people I meet, but they are always unique—and I want all of my characters to be unique too. Even my secondary ones.
So, do you have any favorite characters? What characteristics make them memorable to you?