I’ve started working on my character charts for my new story. I was going gangbusters with the main character, thinking of awesome and unique traits….way cool stuff. And then I started giving her a family. I gave her quirky parents, hippies who were free spirits. I spun wild tales about her birth, her name, her home life.
And then I realized something most embarrassing.
My heroine is 28. Her parents got married in the 60’s. Hhhmmmmmm….that would make her, um, MID-FORTIES.
Okay, so now I have the heroine’s parents getting married in the 80’s. Bleh…what a decade. But, oh wait…mom can still have the BIG hair from the 80’s while in her 50’s. That’s kinda quirky, right? I’m still struggling with her father, but since I graduated while in the 80’s, I should be able to find something fun to use.
I suppose I need a timeline. A bit tedious, I know. And yes, it will be all backstory, but to make the story work in the present, I need to have the details right in the past. It seems rather silly to go to all that trouble to make timelines and build a past for my characters, but it is important. It’s important because the past makes the present believable. It’s important because my heroine’s past makes her who she is.
So now I continue my character building, trying things out…using pencil so that I can erase when it things don’t work! It’s taking longer than I thought, but I want to be thorough. I want this next story to be TONS better than my first.
You writers out there, how do you build your characters? Any tips? Tricks of the trade?