Don Corleone

1. Get some Inspiration: an unusual newspaper item, an intriguing situation i.e. naked man found wandering on M25, woman causes disturbance in Putney handing ten pound notes to passers-by.  You provide the how and the why – what kind of personality would do this?
2. People you know: neighbours, friends and relatives provide useful, accurate character models.  Combine elements of different people, fictionalise some aspects to avoid being a slave to “real life”, or getting sued by your ‘inspiration’.
3. A tight focus: Imagine a character with one over-riding trait such as greed or pessimism – why are they like that, how does it affect their lives? How might they change?
4.  What wouldn’t they do? Think of three things your character would never do and put them in a situation in which they do them all. Your vegetarian, lesbian pacifist dates an SAS man at a Beefeater?
5. Put your character under pressure: Take away their money, job, family, talent, leg or all of the above and see how they react. What does the opera singer who wakes up dumb do, the window cleaner who loses his head for heights?
6. Wishful thinking: What wicked, wild things would you like to do? Create your naughty alter-ego. Think James Bond, Becky Sharpe, Don Corleone.
7. Follow that character: spend a day tailing your character, explore the minutiae of their life, watch them perform simple tasks in their own unique way.
8. Concretise: jot down specific items they would own, things they would do, places they would go. i.e. She belongs to the National Trust, shops at Waitrose, wears a Cotton Traders kagoul, eats lemon drizzle cake, has a collection of  porcelain pigs, and uses the phrase ‘I’m awfully sorry’ a lot.
9. Interrogate them: Ask all the W questions – Who? What? Where? Why? When? Ask them their deepest fear and loveliest dream.
10. Explore their Wants and Needs and remember these may not be the same i.e. the millionaire magnate wants more wealth and power but needs to learn humility and compassion – can he? does he? How?
Ardella Jones
Create characters with Novelist Sheen Joughin at our 6 February Writers’ Room Book via our website under Dates & Rates