March 27th, 2010

Saturn

The Mysteries of Voice: Personality

Last night, I had something of an epiphany. Now, don't get too excited – I've had this particular epiphany several times. You'd think I'd learn, but no. I have to relearn it with every Work in Progress, it seems.

What was this epiphany? Oh, yeah, I should probably talk about that.

I pulled out Shattered Magic, my 2008 Nano novel and realized that my characters' personalities weren't coming through. And in a couple of cases, they didn't *have* personalities.

Basically, I don't know some of these characters well enough. And I don't know some of these characters at all. Once in particular seems to have the personality of a fish and his only roll is that of observer.

But some of the characters in this story shine through. Villar is a villain who thinks he's a hero (he dies either at the beginning of the story or just before the beginning), Erisa is the caregiver and Natayla is the "Lady of Chaillot" – all mystical, but in a powerful way.

The next step for this story is to write out backstory scenes of those characters that have no personality, so I can make them real. Those scenes won't be part of the story (well, maybe a flashback, if it fits), but that's not what they're for. They're for getting to know the characters.

Only when I know who the characters are, can I reveal them to the reader. Have you ever realized that you have a generic character taking up space in your novel?