Here’s a big question, one you kind a need to consider before sitting down to start your story. What’s going to move the story along? Why will people keep reading? Are they going to like the characters and keep reading to find out what happens to them or are they going to get caught up in the situation and need to find out the resolution, even if they may not like the characters? Yes, it is possible to do a combination of both.
Why is this important? Because it tells you from the beginning what type of thing you need to do or focus on.
For example, most romances are character driven, people read to find out what happens to the people, and the people in these stories are likeable. You have to like the people enough to care what happens to them. On the other hand many mysteries are plot driven, it’s all (or mostly) about the events and solving the crime, the people in these are not necessarily likeable. You can have a detective that people don’t like but they’ll still read to find out what really happened to the victim (if you do it right.)
Once you know which element drives your story, you know which to focus on. I’m not saying that both elements don’t need your attention, but if you’ve got a plot driven story, and you focus on the next step in that story, then you won’t have to spend as much energy on your characters. The characters will react (and some of that will come with practice) to the situation naturally, and often you don’t really have to think about it consciously as the story unfolds, things seem to just happen.
Your main character that is.
Could you answer any question posed them? Could you answer an interview of them? If you know them well enough to do that, then you’re on good ground. You know how they’ll react to most situations, even if it’s not a conscious knowledge.
I can tell you from experience, when you know your character well, they will surprise you. Things happen to them and their reactions may not be your reactions but they won’t let you make them do anything else. If you don’t know your character then you my find yourself struggling with how they interact with people, environment and situations.
My advice? Find a questionnaire, it doesn’t have to be a long one a page or two will do, and fill it out for each of your main characters, anyone who plays a decent size role in your story. Personally, I like the ones with off the wall questions like what does she wear on an average day and what would she wear to a wedding? funeral? etc. They make you actually think about your character and his/her personality. Once you’ve answered a page or two of questions about them you start to get a feel for them, and that makes writing about them worlds easier.
Do you have a favorite questionnaire? Feel free to share the links.
Tuesday morning I had (my last two) wisdom teeth removed. I spent the rest of Tuesday and most of Wednesday sleeping. By Thursday morning I was doing pretty well. I was still taking the pain meds, (I’m still taking them today, at least to sleep,) but I was no longer miserable and my swelling was down. It wasn’t completely gone, but was way better than it had been. All in all, I’m feeling pretty good.
The pain meds are strong enough to kill the pain, but not something that hugely affects my mental capacity. I can think straight but I have trouble with the complicated processes of plotting out what happens in a story. But that hasn’t kept me from working… I’ve been keeping myself busy with character sketches for the new people we’ll meet in the next Kitsune book. I’ve been working on plotting for sometime and I always have a number of people we meet for the first time, this one is no different. I’m using my relaxing and down time for a good use. I’m hoping that taking some extra time now will save me some later on, make the actual writing move faster once I get there.