1. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Character Background

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by jazzabel, May 14, 2012.

    I was hoping to get some help with one of my characters. I know him in the here and now, but I would like to hear other perspectives on such a character's background.
    He plays a love interest in a vampire novel which is not a romance but has a couple of romances in it. As luck would have it, my protagonist has a brief and passionate love affair with him until she realises that her "perfect man" is a sociopath, and leaves (not easily, though).
    They continue to feel for each other strongly, but the relationship gets complicated from there.
    He is a dominant, antisocial, charming guy who'll give you the world and then just take it for the fun of it.

    Anyway, what sort of backstories, do you think, would fit this character?
    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I personally think you are far better off leaving the character's background a mystery -- even from you, for now. Why close doors on future story possibilities now?

    Let the past grow through the telling of the present.
     
  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's an interesting suggestion! Because so far, even though I have absolutely no idea about his past, his character is so clear to me.
     
  4. Langadune
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    Langadune Member

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    I think Cogito is right. If it's a mystery to you, and you as the writer are aware of it, the character will probably come across as mysterious to the reader. If you have developed too much of his/her history, you may be tempated to start filtering it into your story too quickly.


    FYI, if I DO want some background on my characters, I write up a simple questionaire. I ask some simple questions and answer them from the perspective of my character. "What are you most proud of?" "What are you most ashamed of?" "What makes you get up every day?" "What would you like played/sung/said/shown at your funeral?" "If you could chose anyone/thing who would you mate/hook up/marry?" "Favorite movie?" "Favorite song?" "Favorite book?"

    These give me a fair grasp on my characters and their motivations but I don't rely on them very much.
     
  5. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess I'm just not used to not knowing their pasts, but it could be really interesting writing in this way.
    I wouldn't have any idea about the answers to these questions, except for the funeral music. I think it'd be "Redemption Song" By Bob Marley :)
     
  6. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    I think up of a scene which is very likely to be in the story, throw the character in it, and then think of HOW would the character reacts and WHY would he/she reacts in such a way? This gives me a scene in the story and a specific character history/background relevant to the story. Honestly I feel random questionnaire are just waste of time.
     
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would also let the backstory develop on its own. It allows the writer much more freedom throughout the story, because you're not forcing the character to behave based on a backstory that very likely has some plot holes of its own.
     
  8. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @killbill: Yes! I have just a scene in my mind, that's how his character started, but I've been delaying writing it because it doesn't happen until later in the book. But I'll try to analyse itin ta way you suggested :)

    @shadow: That's a good point. I am feeling more comfortable with the idea to let him be a mystery, I'll see how it turns out :)
     

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