Tuesday, April 2, 2013
I took a writing class some time ago and one thing that stuck in my mind was the fact that my fellow students/critique partners could not really envision my MC. This was sort of a shock to me because I "knew" what my MC looked like, what he thought, etc. Or did I? As I found out, I had a very minimal view of my MC and did not do a really good job of bringing him to life.
Enter this phase of my writing life and I've embraced the idea of preparation before actual writing. Character biographies are something I believe in now and I do one for my MC, his antagonist counterpart, and any other characters I think will have larger roles than just being a placeholder on the page. Let's face it - if I can't verbally explain who my characters are, there's no way I can put it into words on a page.
The process of going through a biography should encompass more than just name, age, and height. You should be able to explain where this person is coming from. What past experiences have helped shape them? What mannerisms might they have? What are their goals and why (even if it's bound to change over the course of the story)? While you may not use the exact words in your biography when writing the story, this process helps solidify the character in your mind. You don't have to "decide" how a character would react to a given situation because you've already thought through this. You are free to just write and let the story flow - at least that's the thought behind it anyway.
When was the last time you wrote a biography for your characters?