Tip of the Week 7/31/08

Tip of the Week: Characters are Real People Too

Now I haven't developed that disorder where I can't tell reality from fiction. I don't mean that I take my characters out to the movies or sit down to share a refreshing cup of tea. My characters aren't the tea drinking sort.

What I mean is that all of your characters are real within the confines of your fictional world. They have pasts, presents, and (if they aren't killed off) futures that you as their creator ought to know about. These backstories probably won't make it into your actual novel, but they will help you know how your characters react. They give you a reference point for grounding each of your characters, no matter how insignifgant or minor the character is for this particular story.

And knowing this backstory might someday provide you with a whole different story to tell.


Rolli said...

It's a very good thing to consider, yes - but I've also found that too much worrying about backstory can sometimes drive a person bananas, make one question every action, word, putting one at serious risk of REALLY developing that disorder where you can't tell reality from fiction (the "George Bush" syndrome, I believe it's called). It's a very fine line ...

The Buried Editor said...

It's that balancing act you have to do to keep from letting your internal editor become so obnoxiously loud that you can no longer write. If you find that tangential backstories are pulling your book off-plot, then they need to be excised. However, I still think it is important for the author to have some idea of where these characters are coming from. The more detailed a lie, the more convincing it sounds.