September 5, 2013

Character Development 4 - Biography

Dear M,

We had left off character development after we tried to define the different quirks of people. There is something else that I was reminded of, which would actually complete the character development process and cover most of the important things. Only most of them, because the rest is left to the writer to improvise on. Knowing the theory doesn't mean you will produce outstanding output. You need to work on it until your character is complete, three-dimensional, rounded and as imperfect a human being as is humanly possible to create. But knowing the theory means you know how to break the rules gracefully, and how to add colour to a dull landscape and bring them to existence.

If you are a person who relies heavily on Wikipedia for everything, what I am going to say will be very clear to you. You must have checked out some random person's bio on Wiki. But have you ever tried reading up on Wiki about a fictional character? If not, do so right away. Choose some fictional character you like. For example, Randle McMurphy (One flew over the cuckoo's nest) and Ashley Wilkes (Gone with the Wind). Just two names that come to memory. I have seen more detailed Bios of other fictional characters, but I cannot recall them now.

If you look at the biography or character section of these Wiki pages, you could see that they are narrated like a story (in the sense that you get an idea of the whole novel if you read one person's bio), beginning with who they are (sometimes with respect to others in the story). Then their defining characteristics. Those few paragraphs explain them and their attitudes and their actions - that is the final result of character development. As simple as that. Our previous discussions on the topic all boil down to that one bio on Wikipedia. If we are good enough.

If we have the character development thus expanded to a bio before we start writing the story (even though the bio will naturally be vague and unclear at places), it will help us when the actual writing begins. Character development, timelines, etc. are our homework before we begin. When we expand each little scene, we know exactly how this character is going to behave, how that one is going to act, and so forth. Truth be told, if we have these detailed stuff in our hands, it is pretty much copy-paste into the story. There will be no writer's block, I promise you, once we begin writing: we have everything in hand already. The bio that we take pains to create will not be wasted, because those words or words derived from them, go right into the story, stronger and more powerful than they ever were.


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