I had to start with a cheesy metaphor because you're all going to hate me in a minute. I'm STILL talking about characters. And I will continue to talk about characters until we get into this writing business. And then I'll be writing about characters.
They are just so incredibly important. I can't even express their importance enough. Today is about the backstage stuff. Yes I'm sticking with the performance metaphor.
Right now you guys are in the middle of rehearsing your magnificent play and while the stuff that happens on stage in June is pretty important, the stuff that happens behind the scenes is just as special. This is the stuff your reader may never see completely but it's so good for you to have it all figured out. If you look like you know what you're doing, the audience will forgive you almost anything.
Today, 10 days from the start line, is the day you pack your characters baggage so you can carry it around with you for the next month.
As annoying as it is baggage is extremely important in understanding the people around you. Trauma, heartbreak, praise: everything affects their personality, how they present themselves, what kind of transportation they use. And it doesn't necessarily have to be some big trauma. As much as it seems that way in movies and even books, the big events aren't the only things to shape your character. Look out for the little things.
Their past definitely effects how they present themselves. "Beauty is on the inside" and blah blah blah but how a character carries themselves - how they dress and groom and walk - says a lot to your audience and other characters.
Really that was just an excuse to show you a pretty GIF but look...it's pretty. And she's owning that walk. What does that say about her character?
You know what? As a bonus exercise today you should write the back story for this girl. (If you do maybe I'll give you a prize. Seriously).
So yes, looks aren't everything but they are important.
Same with your character's motive. This comes back to the stage thing (I'm sorry). In every single scene, every single character should have a motive; a reason for being there. They have to want something in every scene. It doesn't have to be big. They could want closure or they could want a sandwich. A scene - a story - without purpose is boring and...well...unrealistic.
Which brings me to the last point: realism.
YOUR CHARACTERS NEED TO BE BELIEVABLE. They can been aliens from the planet Gallifrey, your readers need to be able to sit back at say, "I'd buy it." They must purchase your character or your books will never sell. For the record, that is probably the cheesiest sentence I've said all week. You guys are getting quality content today.
Your characters need to have elements of real life to them. You must create a background that makes sense and their personality must reflect their backstory and their physical appearance must reflect their personality and it all comes back to their baggage.
And thus today's assignment is all about the backstory. Free write for 30 minutes about your character's history. Write without distraction, thinking only of your character.
As a bonus, if you write a story for the woman in the GIF and post it in the comments (or email it to me), I will give you a prize...as soon as I think of something.
I just want you guys to write okay?