Good morning all! Hope you’ve had a great week. Chilly here today. The cold temps have returned to Ontario, and I’m extremely bummed about it. We got a touch of spring and Mother Nature has taken it away again.
As always, every blog post is from my pov and my take on how things work/don’t work in my writing/my career. This week, I want to talk about characters. I’ve always been a believer, since I read my first Nora Roberts way back, that the characters are what drive stories. The characters are the heart and soul of the story and good writing, not the plots. It’s Roarke & Eve from JD Robb’s “In Death” series that keep me coming back. Harry, Hagrid, Hermoine & Ron kept me coming back to the Harry Potter saga. And even movies … It is Dominic Toretto & Brian Connor that have kept me returning to the Fast & Furious franchise. As well as John McClane that has me watching Die Hard twice a year.
Whenever I start to get ready to write a story, it isn’t the outline I spend more time on, it’s the character spreadsheet. I need to know what drives the H/H. Their occupation, their childhood problems that have followed into adulthood, where they met their BFFs, what were some hobbies. Plus what their parents were like, what kind of music and movies they like and what they collect as a hobby. Some of the answers to these questions may never make it into every story, but it gives me a much better sense of who I am writing. I want to know everything about them that I possibly can, as well as what brings those secondary characters into their stories. For me, the more I know, the more I have to build on.
In knowing the above, it gives me a better understanding as to what the angst/trouble/struggle is for the characters. And sometimes it’s the minute details that can become a barrier for me as I write, possibly hitting a roadblock, and the only way I can get through it is to know things about my characters – mainly to become a better writer IMO – which readers may never see. Every story has hurdles for the characters; it is never smooth sailing, so the journey, and overcoming those feats make for some great writing. I also learn what the characters determination/motivation is and where it comes from. Having the insight to what each character needs and wants, and the way that s/he will go about obtaining everything is something I need to know from the beginning. Things will shift and change a bit as I write but it gives me a starting point. It also gives me a direction to go with the characters, their arc, and how it evolves from page to page. The heroine may start off as a quiet, button-up librarian or teacher at the beginning of the story, but the hope is that she evolve into a spitfire bombshell comfortable in her own skin by the end.
No information is too much for me. Everything that matters to my characters matters to me. They make the story, I just write their journey onto the screen/paper. Some authors are probably reading this thinking I’m off my rocker and saying to just sit and write, and that’s fine, but everyone’s process is different. I go where the characters lead me and their openness in the beginning makes it much easier to write the story, as well as understand their reasons and motives for whatever happens.
It makes for a better writing relationship as well.
Until next week,