Secrets – we all have them
For the writing assignment today I have chosen to write about secrets, more specifically the secrets that my characters are hiding from each other. I’ve been working on character development – taking each character and visualising them, hearing them speak, dressing them and creating their homes around them. However, that doesn’t make them any more multi-dimensional from my point of view. Each character has to have an inner voice which propels them in all their actions. Each character must carry secrets which he or she doesn’t want to share – at least not with everyone. After all, we all do that in reality don’t we? Everyone has things which they don’t particularly want to share widely, if at all. Everyone has an inner voice which determines their actions and responses to everything else. So must fictional characters.
Last Sunday I took myself to a local café to work on character development, more specifically character traits, their family links and friendship networks. Then I started to think about what their role was in my story, and why I had to understand who they were and where they were coming from. This led me to think about their past histories – obviously in reality they don’t exist, but in my head they do and I need to know them inside out. I worked on three of the principal characters in my putative novel, giving each one a back story and a couple of secrets which they had either told no-one, or had only told a select few. I’m not going to divulge them here as I don’t want to give anything away, but I can say that the process was really interesting for me. I haven’t finished by a long way, but just sitting down and working with each character in turn has made me think about them differently. The person I thought was going to be a wrong ‘un has turned out to be nothing of the sort and I can’t force him to play the role I had mapped out for him, it simply wouldn’t work. I now realise that that role was always meant for someone else – I just hadn’t listened carefully enough before.
I have more characters to work through, their back stories to be logged and their secrets to be identified before I’m ready to write their story, but I’m enjoying the whole process hugely. It has really helped me to get to ‘know’ the characters I have worked on and with. I know this must sound very strange, even odd, but the more I get to know my characters, the more ‘real’ they are becoming – they have a life of their own and they are starting to determine their own roles in the story I thought I was in charge of!!