Thursday, 12 January 2012

WriYe blogging circle post 1: character depth

So, apparently the rest of the world is awaiting with breathless interest my response to the question: how do I give my characters depth?

Really, was there ever a better place for a 'read more' tag?

I think I'd prefer to answer the question about where I get my ideas. I have a nifty response about the Great Artesian Basin of Creative Thought and the rain of ideas that falls on the Dividing Range between Dream and Reality, later percolating upwards in the Mound Springs of Noveldom... Yes, I'm kidding. If anyone ever asks, though, that's probably what I'll end up saying.

Right now, though, we're talking about characters. Character depth, in fact. I have this sneaking suspicion that I'm not going to be able to offer any great insights here. I don't compile extensive character dossiers or anything like that. I just develop the intention of writing a story, flail for a couple of days as I realise that I'm going to be writing this actual story in a couple of days (i.e. the next WriMo) and then sheer panic makes bits start connecting with other bits in my brain. It's really quite profound and the kind of thing everyone should try, but it sounds horribly disorganised so of course most people reach for the planning documents.

I, however, am a proud 'pantser'. I write the first draft as if I was reading it and I can definitely promise that I never read the ending before I'm actually up to it. In that kind of environment, characters darn well have to make themselves real or else I'll just kill them out of the way so they don't spoil the momentum. Surprisingly, they usually step up to the plate.

Have I gone anywhere here yet? Probably not. Oh, dear. All right, so we realise that I don't plan before writing the first draft. Yet, by the time it gets to the first of the month and I'm due to start the new story I generally know enough about my character to be able to get them onto the page. That doesn't mean I know their favourite foods, all their nifty abilities or anything like that, but in my mind the character is a real person and will always be treated as a real person.

Oh, so that's how I give them depth. I let them be real people. Excuse me for a moment while I read back over this to find out if I really was leading up to that point or not.

Close enough. I give my characters depth by letting them be real.

1 comment:

  1. I think that last line sums it up beautifully. Because all readers want to find a character that they care about, and no one cares about fakes!