Hi. We’re going to start our Novel Projects in about a week, and my characters and I are SUPER EXCITED! (This is one of the several reasons why everyone else thinks writers are weird.)
You know what one of the coolest parts of writing is, and what is possibly my favorite part? The Planning. The possibilities are endless! I can make this happen, or what if this character actually turns out this way instead, or what if this entire world turns out to be something no one would have thought it would be?? The power is amazing, and the best part is that it doesn’t affect the real world. It’s like the Mirror Realm in Doctor Strange :o
But being a writer means being empathetic. Your characters are real people, and it’s your job to bring them out and introduce them to the world. It means taking the time to know humanity, to know the people around you, to know yourself and put that into your characters to make them real. It’s walking around and imagining what it would look like to them; it’s walking in their shoes, feeling how they would feel, thinking what they would think, seeing the world exactly how they would see it, even if it doesn’t line up with your actual worldviews.
Being a writer isn’t easy, and if you think it is, you haven’t been writing long enough. Developing characters isn’t easy either. I mean, these people that you make up have to carry the entire story, don’t they? But think of developing your characters like drawing. You make up a basic sketch first, then slowly add the details, flush in the colors, blend it all in to make it one being. But you don’t only draw it from one angle; you draw it from all different kinds of angles, seeing how it looks from here, looking at it from this side, then that, then putting it in a different position to see how it looks like that. You think about how other people view that character, how that character views other people and why, how he/she would act in this situation or if this unexpected thing happened.
You need to know your character as well as you know yourself.
It’s not just that, either; you need to think realistically about their past and how that will have affected them as well. For a very cliché example, say she’s experienced romantic rejection too often, which makes her wary about trusting others with her heart. Or if he’s grown up in foster care, think through the psychological damage that would have, since he’s never learned to trust anyone or really depend on them. These characters you’re developing are people with solid pasts, experiences, feelings, insecurities, quirks, and everything else. If you don’t know them well enough to at least call them your friend, your reader will never know them well enough, either.
It’s true that there can still be great stories with flat characters. If you think about it, The Chronicles of Narnia characters aren’t exactly the kind you completely love and know fully; neither are a lot of YA book characters these days. But in most stories, having a solid knowledge of the people in the story will make it that much better, and it’s always worth it. Hey, you gain new friends, right?