Recently I attended a workshop with Anna DeStefano, best selling, Romantic Times award-winning author. Her session called Plotting through Character Development showed her personal technique for plotting her story by first developing character growth. With Lisa’s recent post on creating memorable characters this seemed a good topic to continue discussing. To any story, but especially in the romance genre, characters are key.
Here is an excerpt from the session:
Where your characters come from is half the battle – Add punch to the character’s present by motivation from the past.
As authors we know story pacing thrives on the here and now, but much of the characters motivation is anchored in the past. Just because the reader never sees all the details of the character’s back story doesn’t let you as the author off the hook. You must know where your characters come from in order to predict where they will go and make it believable.
Characters are built. They don’t just happen – Your characters are reborn each time you learn more about what they need
The focus of each scene from the character’s perspective is change. Each scene should bring about a change that moves them towards their turning point. If you know what your characters need to reach their crisis then you can turn up the heat with plot elements and torture them.
Work hard for those surprises – Revisions are good for spontaneity
Bang out the first draft then go back for intuitive spontaneous character revisions. Interesting, fully rounded characters rarely emerge in the first draft. Character depth usually takes a trip or two back to conquer.
• Commit to the process of understanding your characters better.
• Know your own patterns and weaknesses and put them to use in your characters
• Play to your strengths where your writing gift will thrive but remember change is good. Stretch a little with each new project by picking a character you’ve never explored.
• Dare to go in a different direction in your character’s growth.
I found this session personally helpful because without realizing it, character development is how I plotted my first book. By using these suggestions to fill in the gaps of my own lack of knowledge, my next project will go so much more smoothly.