“Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.” -Kurt Vonnegut
This morning was an emotional one for me. I was taking care of content edits in a very intense part of the contemporary manuscript I’ve been working on. There is always heart from real places, places that exist in me at the base of every story. Over the course of writing the book I grow close to the characters inside the world, I’m creating. I have to in order to make my readers feel as much as I can.
Why read a story about someone you don’t care about?
This particular story deals with unexpected death, grief, and depression all the while my protagonist is going through one the biggest transitions in her life thus far.
I’m taking it as a good sign the chapters tugged my heart strings. I’ve spent extra with these characters. They have evolved quite a bit from their original selves. I’ve been playing around with a story centered around a friendship for awhile, and now that isn’t the only focus here, it is a major focal point. Standing on our feet and expecting life as it comes is another huge one.
As a reader, I need someone to route for to keep me reading and caring. I know that I’m not alone here by any stretch of the imagination. Being as most of my stories have pretty deep characters, I knew that this like the others, would be a character story. But, this time, I wanted to dig a little deeper.
I started this by making a list for each character of their traits, goals, and hardships. I have been finding this incredibly helpful as a checkpoint and tool for more interesting dialogue tags.
Knowing what makes my characters uncomfortable and happy adds to the story and turns into something more than just an idea. Over time, it helps to transform all of it into its own world.