Create Your Characters:

  • Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint: Techniques and exercises for crafting dynamic characters and effective viewpoints by Nancy Kress
  • Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
  • The Writer’s Journey, Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler. Step-by-step instruction in understanding a hero’s journey, structuring plot, and building believable characters
  • Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors by Brandilyn Collins
  • The Writer’s Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters by Marc McCutcheon

Analyze Character Personalities:

  • What Would Your Character Do? Personality Quizzes for Analyzing Your Characters by Eric Maisel, Ph.D. and Ann Maisel
  • The Big Book of Personality Tests for Women by Robin Westen includes 100 fun-to-take, easy-to-score quizzes that reveal your hidden potential in life, love, and work.
  • Type Talk: The 16 Personality Types That Determine How We Live, Love, and Work 10th Anniversary Edition by Otto Kroger and Janet M. Thuesen authors of Type Talk at Work.
  • Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself by Florence Littauer contains a Special Feature: Personality Profile Test
  • A Woman’s Guide to Personality Types: Enriching Your Family Relationships by Understanding the Four Temperaments by Donna Partow
  • The Birth Order Connection: Finding and Keeping the Love of Your Life and The New Birth Order Book by Dr. Kevin Leman
  • The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D. includes profiles of human behaviors and personality types

Many authors recommend using an online Myers-Briggs Personality Test to build characters.

Develop Your Character’s Body Language:

  • The Power of Body Language; How to Succeed in Every Business and Social Encounter by Tonya Reiman

Choose a Career for Your Characters:

  • Careers for your Characters: A Writer’s Guide to 101 Professions from Architect to Zookeeper by Raymond Obstfeld and Franz Neumann

Choose a Character Name with Meaning:

  • Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook 2nd Edition by Sherrilyn Kennyon lists 2,5000 first and last names from all over the world
  • Name Your Baby: Origins, Meanings, Nicknames, Famous Namesakes by Lareina Rule
  • For popular baby names listed by the decade, check out

Convey Realistic Emotions in Your Characters:

  • Creating Character Emotions: Writing compelling, fresh approaches that express your characters’ true feelings by Ann Hood.
  • In Character: Actors Acting directed and photographed by Howard Schatz. Photographic portraits of working actors “making faces” while acting out imaginary scenarios.
  • Faces in which LIFE photographers fill the pages with photos brimming with the feelings that transform our faces. With commentary by John Loengard.

Write Great Dialogue:

  • Writing Dialogue, How to Create Memorable Voices and Fictional Conversations that Crackle with Wit, Tension and Nuance by Tom Chiarella


A Few Final Character Development Tips:

  • Gather your visuals into a reference binder or folder
  • Create an index card for each character’s eye color, hair color and distinguishing features.
  • Find stock photos on and and in magazines.
  • Get house plans from your local builder, magazines, or from Dover Books.
  • Sketch your story setting (character’s town including office, home, businesses frequented, etc.) on a map, creating directions and naming streets for key story sites.


Building Three Dimensional Characters

by Pamela Dowd:

Pamela Dowd - Author and Speaker


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