Day #2 – Fleshing Out Characters

Bit of a shorter blog post today, and a bit of a shorter work day for me in general… In my defense, I have a WoW Raid coming up! I’m a Miffick Rayder! It’s impertent! I’ve got to do do do the heals! They’ll DIE without me. THEY’LL DIE.

So yeah, today was primarily about fleshing out the character sheets and making sure all the stars of the show are all robust and… nicely one-dimensional. I’d say “three-dimensional” but this is a story about supermarket rivalries crossed with over-the-top samurai battle scenes, let’s be real here. Entertainingly one-dimensional will do just fine.

There are a lot of different ways to come up with and develop characters, and I’m a fan of the simple “filling out a form” method. Their names, ages, appearances, personalities, histories, motivations, families, friends, likes, dislikes etc. within reason anyway. Don’t need to go that in-depth for very minor characters, after all.

What’s also cool is how lore organically grows from doing this. When filling out the character’s histories I’ll come up with a way for their story to intertwine with another’s in a way I hadn’t anticipated and it opens a lot of fun new doors narratively. This is why I only do a VERY rough synopsis before going on to the characters, and then go back to do a more complete synopsis. I know a lot of writers don’t like planning and want to dive right into a manuscript from the moment they have a kernel of an idea, because they like to “discover” things about their story as they go along.

Architects vs Gardeners, I’ve heard it called. Architects plan thoroughly and build something to rigid instructions, whereas Gardeners plant seeds and water them and watch something beautiful grow. It’s very nice imagery that does a good job of making people like me – people who actually plan things – look like miserable bastards who are enemies to creativity. But the great thing about metaphors is you can prove whatever you want with them.

Chefs vs Babies. Chefs prepare their ingredients, ensure they understand exactly what they’ll be using and when, then they get to work and craft something exquisite that everybody can enjoy. Babies grab a fistful of spaghetti, squeal in delight, chuck it at the wall, watch it slide down and leave a gooey mess behind, then shit themselves and start screaming.

Ah, the joy of metaphors.

Though that makes me sound biased – I don’t actually have anything against “gardeners”. But I have tried and failed to write a whole bunch of stories that way, and learning how to thoroughly plan things has helped me out a lot.

Not to mention, planning is more fun than we’ve all been led to believe. Even just doing these synopses, character sheets and brief backstory outlines I’m “discovering” things that make me more and more excited to dive into the action. But I’ve got 5 days left to plan and by gum I’m gonna use ’em, because it really does do wonders for dispelling that dread beast… “writer’s block”.

So, yeah, that was my today. Getting to know my characters a lot better and getting excited at all the little stories springing up from that. Who says architects can’t have fun too?

Though I might have broken the “not too dark” part of my mission statement, because the backstory I came up with for the supermarket chain’s CEO… Is almost as grisly and horrifying as the backstories to actual, real-life CEOs.


Seeya tomorrow!


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