The Therapy Couch
Developing a main character for your novel can be like trying to identify the perfect, already-house-trained never-will-chew-on-your-shoes won’t-keep-you-up-all-night-barking-or-howling Labrador puppy from a litter of a hundred identical little balls of fur.
You can’t really tell what the finished product is going to be like until you live with it for a while.
As writers, how do we live with our characters? We write about them. We talk to them. We let them talk to us. We let them surprise us when they do something we weren’t expecting. We keep on writing when they reveal some aspect of their past we knew nothing about, even though we’re secretly peeved. Having a character hold out on you can be like having your best friend keep a secret.
Another really cool way I’ve discovered to examine your character and get down to the nitty-gritty of who they are and what drives them is through an analysis. Jeannie Campbell at offers a great service where you answer questions about your character’s background and life, and she offers insight into what actually constitutes your character’s Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. She is a licensed family and marriage counselor, and for a small fee, she will provide you at least 3 pages of analysis for your character.
Investing in this analysis can save your sanity – really. Your characters will be more realistic, your plot will flow smoother, and you will come away with a better structured novel. In addition, she has a blog, a newsletter, free articles on writing, and she offers several ebooks on grief, personality types and disorders, and on creating rich back stories.
When I submitted my questionnaire to her, she came back with an in-depth analysis of my character, which, I’ll admit, was a little autobiographical – aren’t most of our characters? She also included several suggestions on scenes that would strengthen the reader’s understanding of why my character does what she does, and a scene where my character will be confronted by a conflict between her behavior and her intentions – always a sure way to build conflict within your character.
Click here to check out her website. Tell her I recommended you visit. She’ll remember me. I’m the one who retrieved my stolen bicycle and got a little payback at the same time.