Candice: I recently met up with my Aunt, who is the grand old age of 88. My parents have been doing some research into my Dad’s side of the family and wanted to know if my Aunt could remember anything juicy. My father’s family come from somewhere in County Cork, but we don’t know where, and Nolan is as common as Smith over there. We do know that some of our relies are on the war memorial in Birmingham but don’t really know much more than that.
Anyway, all this research made me think about how you construct a character for a book. When Phil and I started writing we just threw what ever words came to mind on a page. However,about half way through we realised we need to work out who these characters were, and why they would do what they do. And simple things like, did Kate have brothers and sisters, how had she got to where she was, how many men had Tracy shagged etc. So, we needed to give them a back story, even if it didn’t appear in the actual book. This is actually quite similar to creating a character as an actor. When I used to a lot of theatre, the method approach mean that you wrote a history for your character and it defined how your character behaved. I was never quite to that level, probably because I only had minor roles. But, even now when I do extras work, I try to think of my character’s motivation as it really does help you be a more professional character (and I like to think I give good extra!)
So, we created character sheets for our main characters (and some minor ones), which helped drive the story, and make sure that Phil and I wrote the same things about out characters. It’s no good me saying Kate went to public school and Phil has her going to a comp in the next chapter.
At our writing peak, I could tell you exactly what Kate would do in any situation, they were that well rounded.
For any budding writer out there, I recommend you do this as part of your planning.
Image created by Phil, by the way !