so lets talk characters. this is my favorite part of reading and writing. when you see a movie or read a book, the characters are what make or break it for you. do you ever hear someone say “well, the characters sucked, but the rest was great”? pfft. we want good, strong, believable, yet fantastic characters. so when planning your novel or short story, you need to have a really great hero or heroine in mind, and you need to really know them.
character bios are essential!
this is actually one of my favorite parts of writing, really getting into the heads of my characters. not only do i get to choose their hair, eyes, skin tone, height, weight, attractiveness, etc., but also their pasts, trauma’s, successes, demons, talents, weaknesses, goals, dreams, and everything else! there is one of those funny e-cards floating around pinterest that says something about writers creating these people completely from scratch, and then torturing them in every way imaginable. and it’s true!
anyway, before we can get to the torture part, we have to establish a full background for our victims. i mean, heroes. what were they like as kids? what sorts of experiences did they have that would shape who they are as adults? this sets up their motivations for your story. ever read a book and wonder “why in the world did that character do that? it doesn’t make any sense.” i have, and it drives me crazy. if something happens with your character that goes against the norm, there should be some sort of explanation. as the author, it’s your job to provide that. this will also help you develop your story. you would be surprised to know that i don’t actually control everything in my stories. the characters end up taking on a life of their own. they aren’t always going to do what i would want them to do. they argue with me. and that’s good! that means that i have created something real…ish. you know what i mean.
you don’t want your characters to be the same, and you don’t want them to really be you either. i wouldn’t do most of what my characters end up doing!
here is an example of what a bio can do: in my current WIP, the main character is Tessa. Tessa is a plan kind of person, very into lists and organization. why? because as a child, when her mom stayed home, the house was organized and clean and happy. when her father died when tessa was 13 and her mom had to go to work, things were in chaos for a long time. house was messy, people were agitated a lot, things were constantly lost or forgotten or over looked. how does this affect her life now? well, she prefers to keep her life pretty drama free and has a set of rules she follows to help her do that. but what happens when what she wants goes completely against those rules and her life starts getting messy? well, you’ll have to read the book to find out!
the point is, though, that you’ll need to know how it affects them as you write. you’ll need to know how they will handle a scene you’re writing as you write it. they aren’t going to react the way you would, because they aren’t you, they have different backgrounds and experiences. would a man who came from a dysfunctional family see starting a family the same way a man from a perfectly normal family would? what about a woman whose parents died in a plane crash when it comes to boarding a plane or dating a pilot? make sure you know those answers when approaching your scenes to make them ring true.
well, that’s all for now. i have to go wrestle with my characters at the beach. there’s a sand fight a brewin’!