Character Development- How much detail do you go into?
Since I started writing my own novel recently, I created a method for developing my characters. It came about over time as I plotted how the story would go. Knowing about them and who they were helped me to expand my ideas beyond the basic outline, which had already been formed.
Initially, it was simple. As each person came to mind, they received a data sheet with the basics- name, age, appearance, role, personality, etc. Even the insignificant ones were included in this step, but certain ones got more. The main character currently has pages written about her background and it expands whenever something new gets added. Many details may never even make it into the story, but just needs to be known by me as they still effect her.
I have also done this for some of the side characters. A chosen few others have gotten detailed histories with major events highlighted, including past hardships, triumphs, and family background. You could consider these as mini-stories, for that is what they basically are. Ones that only I will ever see because otherwise it would give away parts of the plot and that person’s motivations. Things I definitely want to keep secret until they are revealed in the novel. Yet without knowing all these facets of their lives, the story wouldn’t be nearly as deep and the character’s personalities wouldn’t be nearly as fleshed out.
Considering all this, it made me curious what others do. How far do you go to understand the people you have created for your novels? Is it something similar to my method or entirely different? I am curious to hear your answers.
*I also want everyone to know that Angela Wallace, who posts the Adventures of Teagan series every week, will be unable to continue for awhile. She has other obligations at the moment that have taken up her time, but she hopes to return soon with more Teagan tales to entertain us. I have been fortunate to have her as a guest blogger and will look forward to her coming back. You can still find her on her own blog over at Writerly Musings.
In the meantime, if anyone has a short story they would like to showcase here, send me an email and I will consider it for posting.
~ by Suzie on October 3, 2011.