Swoon Author Karole Cozzo: Get to Know Your Characters

As a proud and prolific planner, I’m a huge fan of character development worksheets. I dare say one of my favorite aspects of the writing process is sitting down with a freshly printed blank sheet and getting to know my characters. However, the questions that really get me going are those that force me to think about my characters beyond the basics, beyond height and hair color, beyond religion and socioeconomic status, beyond distinguishing physical characteristics.

character development sheet

To include you in the fun, today I’m sharing ten of my favorite questions I like to ponder when developing my characters. They’re not ones you typically find on the standard worksheets, and I challenge you to respond to them as far as your own characters in your WIP are concerned. So let’s go…

  • Favorite childhood memory
  • Slow song your character can’t bear to listen to
  • Relationship with siblings
  • Biggest conflict with parents during adolescence
  • Fear he/she doesn’t even know she has OR most trusted defense mechanism
  • Extrovert or introvert
  • Where he/she thinks they’ll be 10 years from now; not where they want to be, but where they truly believe they’ll be
  • Favorite dessert
  • Age he/she first had heart broken
  • Secret he/she has never shared with anyone

In many instances, this information will never actually be fully revealed in your manuscript. And that’s okay. The better you know your characters, the better your readers will know your characters, because you’ll write them more wholly, you’ll write them more intimately. And those times when those pesky characters go off script and refuse to cooperate with the intended plot? Instead of you having to figure out how to get them back on track, if you listen to them, they’ll guide you back to the path that’s most authentic. And that’s the beauty of character development.

off course we are

To further introduce you to one of my favorite characters, Matty Paxton aka “Pax” from How To Keep Rolling After a Fall (Out now! Go get it! Run, don’t walk!), I’m sharing my responses to the above items for Pax. (Young Taylor Kitsch all the way. In my head always has been, always will be.)

pax taylor kitsch

  • Favorite childhood memory: Staying on the beach until sunset with his parents, aunts/uncles, and cousins, long after the tourists left for the day. Playing touch football with his cousins once the sand had cooled and the ocean breezes kicked up.
  • Slow song your character can’t bear to listen to: “Never Say Never” – the Fray. Pax remembers hearing this song playing on the radio after his accident while waiting for the paramedics to arrive. It still makes him sick to his stomach.
  • Relationship with siblings: Pax is an only child but considers his childhood friends/co-members of his high school water polo team to be a “band of brothers.” Now that most of them are off to college and he is still in Breakwater, he misses them more than he’ll really admit.
  • Biggest conflict with parents during adolescence: That his love of athletics and his social life took precedence over academic pursuits. Constantly reminded him that full scholarships were rarely given to all-star athletes with mediocre grades, and a full scholarship was needed.
  • Fear he/she doesn’t even know she has OR most trusted defense mechanism: That he might not actually be as resilient as he believes himself to be these days.
  • Extrovert or introvert: Total extrovert. And becoming wheelchair capable didn’t change that a bit.
  • Where he/she thinks they’ll be 10 years from now; not where they want to be, but where they truly believe they’ll be: Living locally, because he still can’t imagine being far from his parents after everything that happened. Having completed college but still working in a job related to emergency responding. Married, and fingers crossed that everything still works the way he hopes, a kid or two.
  • Favorite dessert: His mom’s summertime peach pie, made with Jersey fresh peaches, eaten while still warm.
  • Age he/she first had heart broken: Are you kidding? He’s the heartbreaker. But Nikki… she definitely has the power to change that, and Pax is acutely aware of this.
  • Secret he/she has never shared with anyone: When entering new or intimidating situations in his wheelchair, he bolsters himself with the credo “WWPXD?” What would Professor X do?

Swoon Reads community, thanks for taking a moment to get to know one of my characters better, and I hope you have a blast getting to know yours a bit better as well!

Author spotlight

Karole Cozzo

KAROLE COZZO is a school psychologist by day, a wife and mother of two by night, and a writer of …

See More