Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG- Character Depth

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG, is a great place where we can share our fears and insecurities and successes as well.  It's been a wonderful source of support and friends for three years now!  Thanks Alex! To join us sign up here.

I can't believe it's already time for another IWSG post!  Thank you all so much for your encouraging words last month.

I'm excited about the new IWSG Book coming out, I know there will be tons of helpful tips.

For me, some of the most helpful tips that I've been told along this journey are about creating depth in characters.  I never used to do much character mapping.  I just wrote.  But then others, including my daughter Jessica, suggested that I write a backstory for each character and even make complete family trees, going back generations for some and a create a "world building time line".

I wasn't sure it would work for me.  It seemed like way too much work that wasn't actually the "writing".  But once I started, I realized how much each person's history influenced who they were.  By going back in time and uncovering their histories, I was learning what made each character tick, which has made it so much easier for me to write them.  It also brought to the surface webs of interconnectedness between the characters that I hadn't even thought of before.

Some days, especially those days where I barely have time to sit at the computer, I still get frustrated that I'm working through timelines and family trees instead of finishing the manuscript.   In the end, I know all the preparation will make the story stronger and more meaningful for me and everyone who reads it.

The IWSG has my permission to use this in its e-book.
Title: Character Depth
Topic: Writing
Byline: Kathy McKendry
Blog: Imagine Today @

Have a great week!



  1. That backstory is important. I teach characterization sessions in schools and have a sheet that provides room for backstory, family, strengths, weaknesses, goals, etc. It all helps to build a well-rounded character.

  2. I always add backstory. Helps me to understand where the characters are in their journey when the story begins.
    Can we use this in the book? It's really helpful!

  3. L.Diane- That's a great idea for kids.

    Alex-Sure, you can use it! :)

  4. Hello, Kathy, nice to meet you. I do a lot of world building, basically all in my head. To plan out a character's history seems difficult. I'm a pantser and like my characters to talk to me. All writer's take different approaches, and one that works is a keeper.

  5. When I first started my fictional novel, I didn't think I'd need a backstory for them but as time progressed, I started a mini chart with their information and a bit of background. It helped keep my characters consistent and different from one another. Great advice!

    co-host IWSG

  6. I love backstory (even if no one ever reads it). I think you can really tell when a person spends time fleshing out their characters. The story feels deeper and more realistic. Great Advice.

  7. Came back to check - got it for the anthology!

  8. Hi Kathy! Thanks for this informative post. I'm working on the backstory phase on for my manuscript characters as I go. It's tricky because I'm writing a memoir, and these are real people. But your post encourages me to keep at it, and I think it's relevant for real people too. I definitely want depth! Happy writing!

  9. Cathrina- You're so right, I think we need to listen to people's suggestions on what they do, but we have to do what works for us.

    Elsie- Thanks, and good luck with your novel!

    Gina- Thanks, that's what I'm hoping!

    Fundy- Yay! I'm glad I helped you. I definitely think it helps for real people as well. Good luck with all your works!