The Story Behind the Story Part 3
It definitely has been a bit of time since I last posted. Making sure final formalities are worked out with the publisher coupled with getting ready for our baby due in July, things have definitely been a bit busy! Anyway, here's my next post in this blog series.
Part Three - Character Creation
Developing my characters wasn't much different than developing my story plot. They simply came to be as the story unfolded. Looking back, it's amusing to think that I went through a short phase where I tried to strategically plan out specific characters and roles, and none of them stuck. I finally just realized that the best way to develop characters was to meet them myself. Just like the rest of the story, pre-plotting characters proved way too mechanical and I didn't really care for any of them. Once I had lead character Sam, I basically put myself in her mind and allowed myself to meet all the additional characters along the way.
I knew all along that many of my characters would come from troubled pasts. It was simply the nature of the story. The crazy part was, as each one entered the scene, my first step was to introduce their individual identities and personalities prior to determining their background stories. I basically allowed myself to meet them and slowly learn more about them as I went. In real life when I meet people, it's not a common occurrence for them to spill out their entire life story to me in the first conversation. Many times I'll spend weeks or even months wondering about their pasts and what inspired their interests and personalities. I think it's really no different in writing. To truly let your characters grow into dynamic individuals, it wasn't enough to just create them. In a way, I had to actually meet and even become each one. Over the course of the story, it was as if I watched their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and background stories unfold right before my eyes. The best part of it all was that everything fell into place. Of course when I re-edited the work, again and again, I went back and made minor changes here and there, but for the most part, they each fit their roles perfectly and everything just seemed to flow along.
With trauma being one of the major themes interwoven throughout The New Waiver, obviously I did have to do some research to ensure a realistic element. I chose to have some of them medically diagnosed with specific disorders, while others were left to the individual interpretation of the reader. Likewise, some had experienced the foster care system while others hadn't. Again, my ultimate goal was to not define them by their pasts, but rather show the reader the many facets to their personalities and ultimately some of the influences behind them.
In the end of it all, I wanted to illustrate hope and proclaim the message that no past traumas or life experiences can ever determine our destiny. Though the past influences who we are, we ultimately make the choice of who we become. This led into the faith aspect in The New Waiver and how I incorporated it in throughout my text. Like the rest of my book, I didn't want to force it or make it mechanical. Just as my faith is not just a mere belief system, but rather is deeply integrated into every part of my life, so I also wanted it to be in my writing. Check out my next post, The Story Behind the Story Part Four - Bringing Faith into the Picture for more.