One of the joys of writing for me is creating a community of characters. Something like putting a band together. And I can thank several writers for teaching me how to do this. Author Elizabeth George, in her Write Away, recommends developing profiles on your characters before beginning to write your story. “Story is character and not just idea.” She says of character: “Give them flaws, allow them to doubt themselves about something, see to it that they grow and change, and make certain you are putting them into conflict.”
I thank teacher and writer Josh Adell for introducing me to The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri. Says Egri, “Character is the fundamental material we are forced to work with, so we must know character as thoroughly as possible.”
Both authors recommend writing about your characters for as long as it takes to know them intimately and deeply. For me, I now have about 60,000 words and over 100 pages on character profiles. They represent three or four different stories at this point, but may all meld into one series as I progress. Some characters loom large. Others are minor, with brief descriptions so far. But all of them are distinct, individual, interesting.
My most recent – Maddy Dela Riva. A high school junior, challenged by physical limitations, strong in her determination and courage, maybe a bit cocky, yet insecure in moments of introspection. I look forward to working her into the Film Crew series I’m working on. Maddy came to me the other day, and within hours she was crying out to be part of the story. She has all but forced her way into the series.
More to come…