Today: "What do I do, now that I've finished my book?"
The standard answer: "Start writing your second."
I desperately, desperately did not want that to be good advice. Why the hell would I have bothered writing the first one if I didn't think it was good? What a waste of time! Oh but then I started querying, and rejection got me down, and to pass the time I thought, "I'll just start a new book for fun. No expectations."
Lo and behold, the second book got me agented. But that's not why I suggest you write a second book while querying. I suggest you take this advice because regardless of your query success, writing the second book will help you make the first one better. Writing completely new characters made me focus on how they differed from book one's cast... and made me realize I didn't know book one's cast nearly as well as I thought.
That fact has become painfully obvious now that I'm trying to rewrite book one. Changing to first person has helped a little, but I'm still having a lot of trouble pinning down my male MC. I have the feeling he should be more of a d-bag at first, but I can't seem to write him that way, and I don't know if it's me or him-- but it's easier to blame him, which is why I've been trying some good ole fashioned character building exercises, and thought I'd share them with you.
Writer Online has a cool set of character tests. The results give you an archetype to consider, complete with "personality indicators," their general personality components, and which mental illness your character would be most likely to have.
None of the "character charts" out there quite did it for me, so I combined my favorite parts of each into one massive character-building worksheet. It's an Excel file that you can download here if you're interested - it includes categories for physical characteristics, relationships, personality traits, random details, your character's top ten lists, and questions about the character's place in your story.
Any other tricks and tips for creating characters? Tell us in the comments! :)