After completing my first read-through I took the last few days to make miscellaneous notes on whatever came to me. These notes were about plot, character, structure, setting, things I liked, things I hated, consistency etc. Basically anything that came to mind (even the occasional: RUN WHILE YOU STILL CAN). It’s amazing how many notes one can compile in just a few short days.
However, I’m beginning to feel like the well runneth dry and it’s time to move on and begin making changes. The last thing I want is to become stagnant with my edits. I need to keep things moving or I risk falling into the black abyss of procrastination, which is why I decided to work on character development next.
This was not a random decision. After scanning through my notes and attempting to make plot decisions for the first of many rewrites, I quickly realized that I can’t make plot decisions yet. Why? Because I have no effin’ idea what my characters would do if put in those situations.
The solution was simple. I broke out the Marvin Gaye, lit some candles and broke out the Egyptian cotton sheets. Tonight, my characters and I are going to get hot, sweaty and primal together.
Fortunately for me, I already know my biggest struggle with characters: mixing their wants, needs and attributes with the plot. I know their backstory, but not how that affects their attributes or actions and how that in turn ties into the plot. It’s kind of a big deal, and to be honest I feel a little silly for not realizing it sooner. I don’t subscribe to developing either the plot or the characters first, but instead develop both in tandem, since usually my characters speak to me through their story. This means one of them suffers. It’s usually the characters. Poor characters.
Mostly though, I don’t want them to be flat. After all, characters are people, too. I want emotional depth that drives the plot, and I want the plot to further drive the characters to change in new and unexpected ways. It’s a lot to consider. But never fear, I have a plan. [I did say I was a planner.]
I’m going to start by reading through the backstory I’ve already developed and applying attributes to them based on what I read (and modify, because you know I’m going to edit that shit).
Second, I’m going to consider their Moral Core, wants and needs. These items are basically their DNA, so… kind of important.
Third, I’m going to map out some possible plot points based on these new shiny new, genetically modified hybrids I’ve created.
Lastly I’m going to make a set of complex character arcs that detail how the characters will change over the life of the story. This will set me up to truly dig into the plot, since I’ll know where my mutant characters should be by the end.
…I better get started…
How do you do develop your characters? Do you find your they’re more influenced by the plot, or that your plot is more influenced by your characters?