Character Building

I have been working on this novel for years now and, every time I hit boulder in the road, I realize I have missed something.  Likely the reason for hitting the boulder.  This most recent boulder revealed that my MC has not been defined well enough to cause her to be passionate about this quest of hers.  I ask myself why she would be so willing, eager, to go along with the journey she must follow and I have discovered that there is no answer — in the book, that is.

So, now I have to figure out where to put this information and how to write it into the story.  Do I do a flashback or give her a present-day situation that expresses her interest and belief in the plot line?  After all, this is not exactly a normal plot line.  She is experiencing some situations that are somewhat paranormal.  Why would she believe in the paranormal?  Maybe I need to make a world where the paranormal is part of the normal?  Or maybe her world includes the paranormal?

While I grapple with yet another snag, I feel some excitement to the process.  After all, I am learning what will be needed on my next project.   And, for me, these questions indicate that I am on the right track.  I think that if I weren’t coming across these little discrepancies, the story would have no continuity.  As strange as that sounds on the surface, when looked at in depth, I am writing a plot line that fits my characters.  Thus it lets me know when those characters haven’t been as well-defined as they should be.

As a writer, we know our characters inside and out, backwards and forwards.  If we are smart, we have written their biographies.  And I did that for all the major characters.  The issue comes when we realize they are in the throes of the plot and we have forgotten to tell the audience how and why they are handling the given situation in a particular way.  For example, I know my MC is a determined and focused.  She is not easily deterred.  She also has “the sight” as her guide calls it. This means she understands and sees the world in a different way than most people.  But how does my audience know that?  So, I am thinking of adding in a dream sequence or a flashback to exhibit her unique perspective.  This should help the reader understand her later reactions to the plot turns.

Back to work…


8 thoughts on “Character Building

  1. marahevans says:

    I really appreciate this post. I like to read about the struggles being faced with the complexities and simplicities of characterization. I recently wrote a blog post about the characters in the movie About Time and about what I liked about them, if you’d like to check it out you can find it on my blog. They are simple, straightforward characters for the most part, but yet the style and wording helped add to the complexities. Thanks for the post.

  2. lisaflaus says:

    I had this problem with my story. I added in a few key pieces of this background information during a conversation with someone. It just helped build my character for the reader. Great post! Xox

  3. Aloha! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I will take a look at your post on the movie’s characters.

  4. marahevans says:

    It was a great post!!!

  5. Thanks, Lisa! Writing the first novel is such a huge learning process, isn’t it? It’s funny how you know the characters so well that you forget you’ve got to tell your readers who they are. I did write a conversation where a past experience was revealed, but I think I need to add more. Problem is, I’m at the first turn in the story, so I need to get on with the action too! What a conundrum! 🙂 Nice to hear from you. I hope you are well! -AH

  6. I am reminded once again how character development in writing is so similar to my work on the stage. Sometimes our characters surprise us! I find writing a journal as the character helps, especially when they are in the throes of something big. Their biographies are awesome for backstory, but on occasion their in-the-moment journaling helps a lot, too…. (especially when we think we are in control of them! LOLOL)! By the way, thanks for the visits to my blog and your comments there!

  7. Thanks, Julie for your ideas. Keeping a journal as the MC might help me get her through this particular plot point. -AH

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