Sunday, September 19, 2010
I've written about this topic before, but I am starting a new novel and I need to develop some new characters. As I have previously mentioned, character development has always been the part of my writing where I have to work the hardest.
I haven't come up with the list of characters that I need yet, and I may or may not need to borrow a character from my last novel. I'll know a little more when I develop the plot further.
On previous novels I usually developed a premise, came up with the expected ending, then put in a twist or two. I sort of developed the characters as I went, and therefore my creations may not have been as developed as they should have been. On my next novel, I want to change that. I am going to spend the first month or so, just developing characters. I want to the chance to live with my creations for a while before I write the story. I want them to become my friends, well, except for the really bad guys.
I probably won't do like some writers I have heard of, and create scrapbooks with pictures, pages full of relatives, or physical descriptions that would rival the files of the CIA, but I plan to create at least a couple of pages of information. I haven't given it a lot of thought yet, but I will probably include name, sex, hair color, height, weight, shoe size, and a hundred other useless pieces of information. Whether or not I use many of these details is irrelevant. What they do is help define the character in my mind. They help solidify who the character is, so that when I put them into a situation, I won't have to think how they will react, I will already know.
I know that my characterizations will not remain static throughout the story, in fact I fully expect that they are going to change as the plot changes. Just like my plot, my characters will morph as the story evolves, but that's not a problem, that's all part of the process. As I come up with different parts of the plot that need to fit together, the characters will have to change to match the rest of the story.
In fact, in the best stories, you will find that the characters and the plot are intertwined, they really are inseparable. You cannot develop the characters without the plot, or the plot without the characters. Changes in the plot will necessitate changes in the characters. The change may be slight, but it is a change nonetheless.
Not everyone uses the same process to come up with their characters, we all do things that work the best for us. How about you? How do you come up with characters?