Like many other persons who teach writing fiction courses, I advise my students to make detailed character sketches for the persons they put in their stories. This is a must for the protagonists and any other significant characters in the story.
We go down the usual check lists : name (nickname if any); age; physical description; primary relationship(s) MOTIVATION etc
You know the list. As a writer/creator you should know every aspect of your characters' lives. This will help if you run into a roadblock in the story-knowing how your character responds to various situations etc.
Good advice, but not all writers write in the same way.
My characters tend to be born whole. I don't have to work at creating a back story, they come with it. I often find that as I write I am following the character with great interest to find out just what it is they are planning and will get up to next and they tell me why. Once I know what it is I want to say, I can start writing and trust the characters to do their thing. Characters even force their way into my stories. I find that these are usually very interesting persons. They very often add another dimension to the story. (see my earlier post on this blog at http://hazeldeebooks.blogspot.com/2012/04/my-favourite-story-in-my-darling-you-4.html
I tell my students that they need to know the 'rules' - i.e. what usually works for writers, but not to be so hard bound by the 'lessons' that they stifle their own creativity. The guidelines work for some, but not for everybody.
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