All posts by Kathryn

What’s in a Character?

Character development is a critical part of any story. When a book is being written by a ghostwriter, it is especially important for the client to transmit a clear and concise picture of those individuals they have worked so hard to develop in their mind. Otherwise when the ghost writes the story, the characters may not quite measure up to what the author has envisioned. As the originator of the manuscript, a client usually has a picture in mind of the various people for the story, what they do for a living, what type of person they are, and what is going to happen along the way.  

One of the best ways to transmit this to the ghost is to write a couple of paragraphs about each of the main characters that will be featured in the book. These should include physical characteristics like eye color, hair color, length, and style, height, build, any scars or deformities, and style of clothing worn. This is especially critical in period and fantasy or science fiction manuscripts. 

But don’t stop there. Now that the ghost writer knows what a character looks like physically, he or she is going to need to know some facts about other attributes. Smart or dumb? Brilliant, genius, average intellect, clever, street smart, stupid, dumb-witted, or lacking in common sense? Mean, nice, good natured, funny, stubborn, or evil? What is the relationship to other characters? What about social status? Is the person rich, poor, middle-class? Sometimes it is also important to include where the person is from, birthplace, or connections to other locales. Race, ethnicity, gender, and religious beliefs are more considerations to keep in mind, as these are traits that fascinate many readers.  

 In the case of science fiction/fantasy or horror, the writer also needs to know if the person is human. Various individuals can be anything from a demon, god, or an angel to an alien, elf, dwarf, dragon, gryphon, orc, or even a ghost. An author also has been known to make up an entirely new species previously unknown to any reader. In that case, the writer is going to need a lot more information that not only describes this new species but also gives an excellent frame of reference about how the species accomplishes the tasks set before it and how it thinks and acts. For example, if the new species does not have ears, how does it hear or determine sounds? Does it pick up vibrations that can be translated into meaning? Or maybe it has a squiggly little appendage on top of its head that enables its brain to receive the information and process it into words and actions.  

A ghostwriter needs to know what makes the character unique. Armed with this information, the writer has a much better chance of making the client happy when reading mirrors and wall art online finished manuscript. Added to that is the goal of catching and holding a readers’ undivided attention in meeting “people of the book.” 

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