The most exciting book ever can quickly became aggravating, and even incredibly boring, without well-developed characters. Last week, I wrote about the importance of a physical description of characters. This week, I want to highlight something that a lot of authors overlook: history.
How many of you know the histories of your characters? How many of you know their birth dates, their habits, their deepest desires, quirks, and obscure family members? How many of you are aware of their eating habits, the types of plants they like, and their world views? The reader doesn’t have to know everything – sure, I’ll admit it.
But you do.
The reader needs to feel like you know. And there need to be hints. Some of the literary characters that are hardest to get into are those that do not have a well-developed history. The reasons are pretty clear. The reader can’t get into their heads. Also, it seems like there’s very few logical motivations for the characters’ actions.
Overall, it’s not about the reader knowing every little detail, because that makes a book boring as well. It’s about the aura that your characters have. Do they feel like they began before the book did? Do they feel like they go on after the book shuts? If they don’t, you have some work ahead of you. Go to it! Every drop of sweat is worth it – take it from someone who is still doing a lot of sweating.
Here’s a link to help you get started: