The Hardest Thing About Character Development
These characters we create, as writers, they become like real people, birthed into existence by choice words. They’re fashioned from bits and pieces, remembrances, glances and from the fabric of our imagination. These characters that we create, they take on truths, they make people feel things and sometimes elicit anger and rage from us. These characters that we create in stories they’re created out of something. Thin air … yes. imagination … yes. history … yes. They are created from a mixture of the real and unreal, the seen and unseen and we as writers, we give them the journey into people’s hearts.Its crazy to think about it like this … but just for a minute, really think about it.
If characters are created from bits and pieces of who we are or what we’ve seen and or experienced in our lives and if characters are created from our imaginations and values and different facets of our personalities … where do tangible things like memories and pieces of us stray from things like our imagination? Where is the intersection and can you really truly separate the two?
So, go further and ask yourself this, are we always connected to the characters we create?
Honestly, I don’t know. When I think about character development and character creation, I can go deep down the rabbit hole, and it can be stifling. I have a fierce and honest to goodness respect for human behavior, the human heart and its emotions and the echoes of experience in our bones. I don’t know if it’s this respect and reverence that makes character development so very important and like a surgical experience for me (which is anything but natural for me as an artist), but it takes me a long time to truly figure each character out. I want to give each character I create his/her time to crawl out of my mind and to live on the page before I write them for good.
I draw pictures of each character, I interview them, I come up with their daily routine, I talk to them, I find the places where my life intersects with them (often, when I look deep enough I see that I intersect more and deeper than I initially understood!). It’s a process that gives me a bit of anxiety and to be honest its a huge sigh of relief when I finally understand a character I created and then can play with their story.
So, the hardest thing for me about character development … is character development … what?!? but … yeah.