Sometimes I think we can get so court up in the big full-on relationships of ours characters that it is possible to lose sight of the whole picture.
We are told that when developing characters that we should make a personal profile, by giving each and every character there own back story. Basically a life before the plot. This is to give us (The writer) the ability to write from their (The character) life experience. Now this is good as long as you keep the exercise to the point of view characters. I say this because when I first started writing in a more than caesural manor, it was this that through me the most. Know one has ever told me that the least important the character, the less back story you need to create. Making a full and colourful life for all your characters will be fun, but I’m not sure if its necessary. To be clear I’m not the kind of writer that writes a full profile on any of my characters. I make them in my head and they stay in there. I was asked to explain this once and my explanation spooked me as much as it did the person asking. They said ‘How do you make these people up?’ my response was a few moments of fumbled thought and a few scratches of the head, then. ‘Its like there is a small room in the back of my head, where there are many little people. (I mean little people in my head) They kind of listen to what I want and when I’m stuck I hand over to them. They then spend what ever amount of time is necessary to make things work. I can be washing the car or cooking the tea but when they have finished working with the plot or character problems. I get an alert that things are ready to move. This normally comes in the form of that magic called inspiration. I stop what I’m doing and go find my laptop.’ Now the weird thing is that in my imagination this is what happens, a group of people live in my head waiting to help me when I am stuck on plot or character. Snapping into action when required.
Am I schizophrenic? I think not, I just have a good imagination. When you look at your own life and the complex relationships that are held there, you may see a kind of scale. First there is your close and most important relationship, your wife, husband, partner. These are the ones you know most. Then there are siblings, uncles, aunts, friends, work colleague and so on, the list goes on. What we have to remember is that when we interact with these people in the real world, we do so on a much different scale. Some people don’t get on with their mother or father. Some cannot be in the same room with there brother or sister. Some people place friendship far above the family connections.
Also if you give yourself such strict guides as character mapping, you can take the ability for a character to be lied to, or be manipulated by another, because you know too much about them. In life we fight to see the genuine within people but get it wrong more times than any of us would like to admit. By mapping every character I think its possible to take that ability away from your characters and make them a bit predictable. I would be very interested in your view on this, as I find characters fascinating and think its this that drives me to write.
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