Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Surprise me with your characters.

   Lately, I have seen a number of posts dealing with character development. They reminded me of my old role playing days where you took a premade character sheet, and filled in all the details of how you wanted your character to look and act. Some people have even gone so far as to interview their characters to find out about their lives. I have no desire, nor do I feel it's necessary to write a biography on each character. Some writers are so enamored with the characters they've created, they want to share everything there is to know about them.
   As a reader, I like to be able to use my imagination, and flesh out a character as I join them in their journey. It gets frustrating when I imagine a characters traits early in the story, only to have the writer throw those conceptions out the window later on.
 My thoughts on character development follow the same course as my feelings toward plotting. If you lock your character into a preset model, you take away the spontaneity and freedom to act in unexpected ways. The extent of my planning may involve several pages of where the story begins, who the main characters are, and what they need to accomplish to finish the story. What happens in between results in the wild ride I experience as new characters appear and entertain me.
   As an example, in my epic fantasy, I had planned simply for young Navon to leave home, and rescue a young street-wise girl being attacked by outlaws. When he first entered the forest, large wolves appeared in his path. Wolves, really? I had never imagined wolves being involved in the story, but they have added a wonderful new dimension to the story and aided in Navon's development. After successfully dealing with the wolves, Navon is confronted, not by a street-wise kid, but a mature, magical figure who is there to protect him from evil forces he wasn't yet aware of.
   If I had ignored the wolves because they didn't fit into the original plot, or stuck with the street kid, I feel the overall story would have suffered. I love to meet new characters, but just give me the basics. Are they young and naïve, old and experienced, short, tall, etc. I have an active imagination, and love to use it.
   I'm only sharing what works for me. If you love to plot and write character bio's, more power to you. There are just as many correct ways to write as there are writers. Find what works best for you, and practice it to perfection.
   Thanks for taking the time to read!


  1. You are right - everyone has a different writing style and a different preference for reading. Many great books are strong on story and have characters not fleshed out in detail, other books are strong on character and perhaps less on story, some are both. And you can't please everyone, so yes, I agree with "find what works best for you . ."
    Thanks for posting!

    1. Thanks for the nice comment Karen. Seems like too many people try to claim their way is the best way.

    2. echos of politics and religion . . ;-)