Spears are fun!

Alright, so if you’ve been following along with the character creation posts, then by now you should know your character fairly well.  Either you’ve taken the time to talk to your character, and to find out about his/her personality, or you’ve answered a ton of questions about the character.  Your character should also have a set of things that he/she is good at, or that he/she is bad at.  Now it’s time to start writing, but the first thing to write is not what you want to use the character in.  You see, the best character’s have history – a backstory – and you’ve only started to develop that.  Now you want to start fleshing it out.

This is where the two models of character creation merge into one.  You should pick an important event in your character’s life (something that the character told you about [natural method], or a question that you have already answered in brief [ordered method]) and write a story about it.  This doesn’t have to be a long story, it could be as little as a few hundred words, or as long as a few thousand, but the key is to write the story of something important to the character.  Don’t just do this once, do it several times.  Take the time to write out several of the most important events in your character’s life – his wedding, his father’s death, how he left home, or where that giant scar on his back came from.  This allows you to get to know your character even better, but of equal importance is the material that it gives you for later stories.  Remember that references (even in passing) can make a character come to life – mystery makes things interesting.

Remember that whether it's a character or a location, a little mystery can make a story a lot more interesting.

This mystery can be introduced by just making stuff up – Kellin has a scar on the back of his hand from the battle of Jacink – but this leads to the question, what happened at the battle of Jacink? What were they fighting over? How was Kellin involved? If he was the general of the victorious army, then he might wear the scar as a badge of pride, but if he was a bystander caught in the middle of a fight, then he might be bitter about it.  These details don’t have to make it into the story that you want to write, but they will affect how the character reacts to certain situations.  If the scar is a badge of pride over winning a close battle, then Kellin might display it, or even draw attention to it.  If it is a reminder of a horrible event then he might refuse to answer questions, or even try to hide it.  The details of the character’s life will help to lend the character reality, even if you never tell your audience what those exact details might be.

These small stories can also help in other ways.  For one it is a way for you to get to know the character better.  The more you write about the character, the better you will know how that character will respond to a given situation.  They can also be polished, and later used as advertising material (if you are self-publishing) or sold to magazines.  This kind of writing gives you a backlog of stories that can come in handy in any number of ways, and even if they never get used – it’s fun to write them.  Try to write at least three to five stories about a new character.  That way you have a sufficient number, without going overboard and setting the rest of your writing too far back.

One thought on “Time to Start Writing

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