Well no more. :)
I'm learning. I'm growing. And so are my characters. Take my heroine from my new WIP. Here is some background on her:
She's approximately 24 years old, single with no children. An escaped slave from the northern realms. She is 5'6" tall with an athletic build, almost elfin features. Her hair is waist-length, black with a pale streak on the right side. Her eyes are dark, almost black, skin is very pale. She likes to wear soft clothes, long skirts, tunics, loose blouses, high laced sandals or boots. The colors are muted, except for her ceremonial robes which are pure white.
She's very principled and disciplined and strives for personal perfection, holding herself and society up to high ideals. This causes problems for her since she tends to see things in black or white - there is good and there is evil, with no in between. She seems rigid and detached, impatient or even sarcastic to others. But when she is focused on something, right is right and she'll stand up to anybody no matter who they are.
Because of her standards, she has trouble dealing with other people. Because of her special abilities, others have trouble dealing with her so she is very much a loner. She seems anti-social, but she's actually protecting herself. If she doesn't get close, she can't be hurt. When she's under pressure, she gets angry, feeling alone and misunderstood. When she's relaxed, she becomes less rigid and lets life happen. She knows the way things should be and tells others so, often lacking tact and offending others, then doesn't understand why they get upset with her.
Throughout the story, she learns that perfection isn't necessary in all things and that releasing control over her emotions and herself will allow her to live a better life. Sometimes good enough is best.
There is more to her, but these are the basics. I've also worked on internal and external goals, motivations, conflicts. And on the other characters and their relationships with her.
Thus a character is born.
Birthdays: Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Lockhart, John Edgar Wideman, Ruthven Todd
Tips and Teasers: Go to the Personal Ads section of your newspaper and pick out several ads. Write brief character sketches for the people – what are they really like?
Thought for the day: "What I would like to write is a book about nothing, a book without exterior attachments, which would be held together by the inner force of its style, as the earth without support is held in the air—a book that would have almost no subject or at least in which the subject would be almost invisible." - Gustave Flaubert