Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Character Bios – Developing their motivations

When the muse strikes, we want to write!  But when the first flurry of ideas wears thin we are left with characters that can display contradicting actions – if character bios haven’t been developed.

Before starting An Unexpected Death I sketched out bios of my main characters. That wasn’t as easy as it sounds. For each person I developed a physical, psychological and sociological profile as well as their goals, revelations, and crucial life choice.  Bios and character motivations are needed in order to provide depth to the story line.

I had over twenty characters in the book, so it seemed like a lot of time and effort to develop these profiles for everyone, because what I really wanted to do was to start writing.

“Your job is to present to us the character and the goal clearly and forcefully fairly early on.”
Nancy Kress, Writer’s Digest, Nov/Dec 2012

And that was okay until some of the secondary characters decided to take on a more important role in the story, and I then needed to determine their key motivation within the story as well as fleshing them out more, i.e. developing their profile. This was an annoying interruption in the writing flow, and I wished I had done it earlier.

It is a given that characters will change/grow during the course of your story. Those who you thought would be static characters might decide to take on a larger role, and for that you have to be ready and know them much better and what their key motivations might be.

In the book, Maddie is the sheriff’s office dispatcher. She was a secondary character with not much description. My first readers asked to see more description of Maddie and suggested she be developed more in the second book. For some reason she touched their hearts, and they liked her enough to want her to play a much bigger role.

And so it shall be.

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