Character History

No person
No person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve said it before, and knowing me as I do, I’ll say it again.  My favorite aspect of creating stories would probably have to be character development.  I just love getting into their heads and seeing what makes them tick.  I go through the whole gambit of emotions.  Why?  Because it’s fun and it also helps me understand people.  Just my thing.  When I say I love it, I mean it!

I’m also one of those writers who have two firm beliefs about people in general.

1.  That no one is perfect.  No one has had a perfect history where everything was safe, happy, and wonderful.  Something has happened that isn’t nice, sweet, and loving.  This can cover a large range from the benign to severe.  That something, even if it’s just one incident (which I find highly unlikely) affects the perfect, sweet, angel of a person.

2.  That everyone has an aspect of darkness to them.

The first belief comes from the fact that I’ve yet to meet anyone that has proved me wrong.

The second comes from that I believe in balance in everything, from people to our environment.  I won’t say evil because it’s not unless harnessed and made to become evil.  But that’s a different philosophical discussion for another time.

So, with these two beliefs bolstering me (say that three times fast) I build my characters with the same constraints.  Something happened to them to make them question themselves and reevaluate everything they know and that they have a dark aspect of their personality.  The difference lies in how they approach both aspects.

Some, okay, most people, run from the darkness and try to deny it.  Depending on the nature of that darkness depends on how fast it catches up.  Most people, when something traumatic happens to them, they wrestle with it immediately if it happened in their adulthood or, if it happened in their childhood, wait until something in their adult life brings it roaring back to life forcing them to deal with it.

To find both, the darkness and the bad event(s), I develop character history.  Which brings up another point, the definition of history for individuals.  For people I think we have two types of history.  The first is the daily parts that usually follows similar predictable patterns.  An example would be to get up, get dress, eat, go to work, work, go home, sit on the couch and zone out because work was so damn stressful.  See, predictable, but what makes each person different is how they approach the daily history.  Diaries are great way to see how you deal with your own.

Then there is the major event history that blurs the daily and emphasizes the big events.  The first car, first time you made love to the man/woman you thought you love (or did love if you’re one of those individuals that wait until they meet the one they marry), birth of child(ren), first day of a new school.  You know, the big events.

The big events are usually where you’ll find the something that happened to the person.  Some are unlucky to find that most of their big events sucked with a few exceptions, most are lucky in that only 40% of them are in the ‘this sucks’ category while the rest are in the ‘laugh your butt off because it’s so damn funny now that we can look back at it’.  Those are the ones most share with the world.  My interest is in the 40% of people when it comes to my characters.

I try to make it an even distribution between the two within those percentages.  Some are more 70/30 others are 80/20 while a few are 50/50.  Those in the ‘sucks’ category are where you find the darkness within a person.  The tipping point between sweet and bitter.  I explore it just to find out what the character fears, hates, wants to change, and find injustice within.  That pet project that, when mentioned, always causes outrage.

It also makes our characters who they are as well.


One thought on “Character History

  1. Hey, thanks for pinging to my blog! ( Glad you love character development too! Getting to know their history, and what makes them who they are today, it’s all very cool!

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