Authors are often asked, is your story character driven or plot driven…in other words, is your story more character oriented or plot oriented?
I’m a panster and I don’t spend a lot of time plotting out either my characters or my plot. I have a general idea of who they are and what’s going to happen when I start the book, but I’m not one of those authors who have a notebook on either.
One book I have on characters is WHATWOULD YOUR CHARACTER DO? Personality Quizzes for Analyzing Your Characters by Eric Maisel, PH.D. and Ann Maisel. “The 30 real-life scenarios include questions and answers that provide you with a window into your characters’ souls.”
The book sets up scenes for your character, then asks a series of questions, with multiple choice answers. You choose the answer that your character would most likely do. The authors then give you an explanation for each answer—why your character would react that way.
An example from the book: Scenario No. 7 – Flirting (page 76). “Imagine your character in a bar and in a flirting mood.” What sort of a bar is she in? What other people are in the bar? Get the picture in your mind. Then ask yourself:
“An attractive someone makes eye contact with your character. What is the first thing she does?”
1) Look away quickly?
2) Meet the glance briefly, then look away?
3) Meet the glance in a lingering way, then look away?
4) Smile and nod?
5) March right over?
What answer did you choose? According to the authors, this is what each action means:
1) Looking away quickly is consistent with a shy character who lets lots of life’s opportunities pass by and who is similarly likely to experience a lot of regret over her missed opportunities.
2) Meeting the glance briefly, then looking away is consistent with a character who, although on the shy side, has enough self-confidence to reciprocate a glance and who is likely to come back for a second glance.
3) Meeting the glance in a lingering way, then looking away, is consistent with a self-confident character who perhaps has a lot on her mind or, alternatively, with a self-confident character who is playing a studied role of casualness.
4) Smiling and nodding is consistent with a friendly, extroverted character who takes easily to new people and who may pop up and visit if another glance is exchanged.
5) Marching right over is consistent with a powerful character high in energy and sex appeal or, alternatively, with a weak character who is used to disguising that weakness through bold gestures.
In this chapter, you are asked five other questions and also given other alternative flirting situations to consider and facts about flirting and modern women.
A few other scenarios given in the book for your consideration are: Family Picnic, Poolside Encounter, Stranger in Town, Poker Night, At the Sex Shop, Deathbed Secret, A Very Busy Day.
So, how would your character react to finding a handsome/beautiful someone looking at them?
Anna Kathryn Lanier
Never let your memories be greater than your dreams. ~Doug Ivester
This post first appeared on the Roses of Houston blog on 12/28/09.