Monday, September 2, 2013

Character Back-Story: On the Corner of Frustrating and Fun

Developing a character and giving them a detailed backstory can be tremendous fun. It can also be a horrendous nightmare. I love knowing everything about my characters, but it can be frustrating when I cannot share that with my readers. I started writing my manuscript in January of 2012. I finished writing about a year later and after six or seven months of editing, my manuscript is publication ready (or at least I think so). Even though my book is complete, I know my journey with these characters is not. Each character I have crafted has so much more to tell. I have only scratched the surface of their potential. If you have written a book or a short story, you know exactly what I mean. We invest so much of ourselves, our time, and our energy into creating these fictional people. Sometimes leaving them or taking a break from writing is the hardest thing we have to do. I hope some of you are nodding and thinking to yourself, "Oh good, we're not alone."

Quite honestly, the main characters of my book are two of the best friends I have ever known. Are you still nodding? *Breathes a sigh of relief* Oh good, I'm not alone. My main characters lift my spirits and encourage me to write. Without the back-stories and unique personalities, fictional characters would be two dimensional and boring. They could not be your friend or inspire you to write.

Writers treat their characters as real people because their readers need to see them that way. Our readers need to see realistic characters that remind them of themselves, their friends, or even of their enemies. Our readers need to believe in these characters, they need to root for the good guys and snarl at the villains. It can be frustrating to know everything about a character and not be able to share that with the reader. Although, just because the first book is finished, that does not mean you have to say goodbye to those characters just yet. Here's hoping I can publish the first book and be lucky enough to write a second!


  1. I know exactly how you feel. For me, one of the worst things is having to NOT write a story about my character, sometimes it even makes my first couple of drafts bad because I want to incorporate as much as I can into the story I'm actually writing.

  2. Have you seen this comic?

    That's why, muses willing, if I ever become a successful author then I will be kind to fanfiction writers. Even if they only ever throw the characters together into a story for an orgy. Something about the characters must have touched them.

    1. Elly, I had never seen that comic, but it's true. As writers, the characters we create become like our family.

      For me, the jury is out on fan fiction writers. I would probably be happy that my characters were lovable and relatable enough for another writer to want to adopt them. On the other hand, there is a level of sanctity I have for my characters. I wouldn't want anyone to defile them.