Thanks so much to Laura for having me here!
For me, reading is all about the characters. If I don’t care about the characters, even the most intriguing plot won’t pull me in.
So, how do we develop characters other people will care enough about to read our stories?
Lots of ways. There are probably a bazillion ways to create characters. Like most other things in this writing journey of ours, we have to find what works for us. We can’t use every idea or we’d never get the stories written.
I’m a pantster. I’m turning into more of a pantster with plotter tendencies as I learn and grow, but there’s next to nothing on paper before I start writing the story. You’ll find lots of writers use character sheets, character interviews and lists of questions for their characters. Great ideas.
If your brain works that way. Mine doesn’t.
My story ideas generally start with a spark of emotion – a strong emotion. This emotion is caused by an intense event – sometimes from what will become the final scene of my book, or a climax scene, or an initiating event, or a trauma from an MC’s past, or from the moment my male and female MCs meet (I do write romance!).
After the emotion, characters materialize (my 2 MCs first) and I let that scene walk around in my head for a bit. I watch the characters, check out their reactions. And I let my subconscious do some work too. That works surprisingly well for me.
Once I know my characters’ emotional reactions to that scene, I know the most important things about them. The backstory filters in and lets me know WHY they’re reacting the way they are.
My next step is to wonder about the first scene. It’s almost always connected somehow to the scene I’ve imagined. Again, the emotions come first for me. What strong emotion is going to be at the forefront in the beginning of this character’s story? What triggers the story?
Then I write.
I sometimes end up rewriting my first chapter two or three times before I feel like I know my people well enough to tell their story properly. By then I know their physical appearance, their family & friend connections and the problems they need to solve.
Of course, my understanding of the characters deepens as that first draft develops, but there aren’t usually any major changes.
So, there you have it. For me, it’s all about the emotions. How do your characters develop?