Updates

Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Character Meet and Greet

People aren't static. Everything we do changes us. Everything we witness, everything that happens to us.

Yet often times in books, it seems that the characters are static. Flat. They don't change. As readers we anticipate a change. We watch the cause on one screen and turn to the next screen to see the effect. If there is none, we feel a huge let-down.

The relationship between your characters is changing, evolving. Have you noticed? How well do you really know your characters?

My characters have a huge back story. Most of it is never revealed in the book. At one point it was revealed, but most of those scenes have been deleted. And it doesn't matter. My characters still react to things in context of their histories. The little reveals add depth to the novel, they add mystery and intrigue. Just like our relationships with our friends in real life. When we meet someone, they don't hand us a pamphlet with their back story (though heaven knows, sometimes it would be nice). We get to know them little by little. We discover their eccentricities and what makes them tick, and sometimes we never quite find out what it is about brown socks and rabbits that sends them into a tizzy every time, but we know it does.

It's okay to mess with your characters. Do something crazy, just for fun. Write a scene where one of your characters breaks a personal moral standard. What does that do to your character? How does it affect the relationships with the other characters? Write a scene where the character witnesses a crime. Loses a sibling. Gets a scholarship.

Get to know your characters again. It's amazing how dynamic they are. Maybe someday I'll be ambitious enough (and organized enough) to do a blogfest on this topic. In the meantime, feel free to share your scene with me. Just post it in the comments. I might do something with them later.


9 comments:

Summer Ross said...

good advice, it seems this last week almost everyone is concentrating on characters, but that's also because of the blogfest so many entered in. anyway, good post and that's a good idea.

Jen said...

Excellent advice. I think it's important to remember where are characters are, what they represent, what they like and dislike and when we spend so much time creating another world it's hard to go back to the beginning, when you were just forming that relationship.

Great post! I love the blog fest idea ;)

Jemi Fraser said...

Great post! In a ms I wrote before I considered checking into publication, I included a ton of backstory. When I learned a bit and fixed it up, I cut the story in half :)

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Ah, Jemi, stories that ramble!!! I'll be posting about that very soon too...

kbrebes said...

You've convinced me to cut backstory and to have my MC break a standard. I hope it goes well! Great post!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

@kbrebes-- good! I hope you'll share what your MC does!

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Wow, Tamara, congratulations on your book with WiDo! I'm so very happy for you!

I very much do feel as my MCs do. They are so very real to me like real people.

Here's an epic questionnaire if you're ever up to the challenge. A test, if you will, to see how well you know your MCs!! ;)

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

@Elizabeth--oh my, that is a massive list! Thanks for sharing!

Okie said...

I love creating backstories for my characters. Sometimes I'll add a character to a story without knowing much about them and then just watch where they go. If I hit a dead end or just need new inspiration, I'll go and actually write up a full history for the character.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...