At the moment, I am in an intense period of character development. I realized early on that I would have to give every character at least two drafts of development to avoid cliches. As each character supports the plot, they are like jigsaw pieces that you fit into a puzzle. Ever the reductionist, I constantly ask myself, “why do they exist?” They exist to serve the plot…if not, they are useless and are cut, or their roles are dramatically reduced. To avoid cliches, I have to embrace each character, and learn to love them a little, and hate them a little.
Case in point, how do you love a slaveholder from antebellum Charleston? You make his story a bootstrap one, and you give him a fatal flaw that you know damn well you have too… afterall, people are people. How do you hate your protagonist just alittle, just enough to jam him up and put him in a chokehold that will drive the story forward? You give him a characteristic about yourself you wish you could change…maybe you make him a little lazy, so that it takes an asswhupping to get him moving again.
Either way, every character has to be informed by research, research, research. Frankly, I’m tired of the research and reading. I just want to write! Yet I know putting the time in is key. So what’s informing the development right now?
The Killer Angels (quite possibly the best book I’ve ever read in my life…)