Nothing bores me more in life than filling out long forms about myself–nothing but golf, of course. So it should come as no surprise that I have approximately zero desire (give or take a head-in-wall-thumping) to do the same for my characters.
Now, I recognize that filling out forms for each character (as advised by multiple sources) will not necessarily kill me. I realize, the expression is specifically that “I almost died of boredom,” not “Ms Ruth, formerly of New York, died early this morning of boredom. She leaves behind seven ill-formed characters and a plot that has yet to draw to a satisfactory close.” Thank goodness.
But nonetheless, though forms don’t kill or many more writers would be perishing mysterious, dull deaths–I refuse. I just refuse. What does not kill me does not necessarily build my characters. I refuse.
Perhaps realizing that I had refused (and in fact had gone so far as to–brace yourselves–delete all of my interview files, empty and pristine of answers as the day I first created them), one of my firmer characters, B, took matters into his own hands.
Talking with some other key characters, he remarked on how he sees D. And wow, D gained depth! D, who wasn’t a “problem character” anyway, suddenly had more shadows and nuance and substance. Not because B “captured him completely,” so to speak, but because B saw him in his own way. In a different light. Both characters fleshed out from B’s insight.
It’s like when you’re talking with someone and they mention a mutual acquaintance, and you’re curious what they think about them. Why? You know that third person too. Why would you care for another point of view?
I guess sometimes we see things that others don’t, and vice-versa, and it’s interesting to mull over a new angle–and it also tells you something about the person speaking, him or herself. And how you want to treat them in the future.
B just added depth… When I thought he was being more concretely himself, he was also grounding all of us…
And yes, I just lumped myself in with my characters.
Yay! If any readers here are writers–what have you found helps, or is it just time and that mix of clear and still-being-forged characters which eventually imprint their selves on the work?