Discovering Characters

In setting off on a journey to creating a compelling story with complex characters, aspects of the plot change over time, with varying degrees of coherency. Elements are added, changed and / or removed (only to be replaced or reinstated at some later point in time) in efforts to make the story better (albeit that’s a subjective term). Change is inevitable during the plotting, pondering and writing process, and it’s almost mandatory when editing. The finished product may (or may not) be exactly what was outlined at the beginning, and that’s a good thing (I think).

The shape of the primary (epic) work in progress and the characters within has changed over the years, both in size and complexity. Characters are created, with their unique set of baggage and archetypes – their role in the overall story varies, from major to minor; they disappear for a while, or get relegated to another story arc (or series altogether). Knowing who these characters are and what motivates them to do the things they do influences the direction down which the story travels. The focus on the narrative structure and the atmosphere of the world in which the story takes place should be concurrent with the development of its characters.

The topic of character development has been discussed here before (and no doubt I’ll be repeating things I’ve written before). It’s been a process of discovering everything about the characters I’ve created, though at first that might sound odd, as the writer should know every aspect of those characters. After all, the writer is responsible for their very existence (tenuous as it might be at times) – their appearance, their personality and their perspective of their world. Then again, drafting exposition and creating a list of statistics is the starting point – once the characters are placed into a room together and dealing with whatever situation is unfolding, the predetermined aspects of the characters will change depending on what happens.

Outlines are fine when plotting out the basic structure of the story, and its place in the series (if it’s part of a larger saga), but things change when there’s a deep(er) dive into the details. The twists and turns come out of nowhere and can (sometimes) lead to greater things, or at least more fantastical things (hopefully). There’s no guarantee that the original story line will remain intact, or if the characters created for that story will remain the same (or remain at all).

Uncertainty is the only certainty when creating a story.

One day, perhaps in the future, I’ll be confident enough to share some of the details of the MASC Chronicles and its main characters.

But for now, it’s back (again) to the plotting and pondering..


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