I was thinking about my WIP novel the other day (what a surprise), and it suddenly occurred to me that I am nowhere near as far through as I thought I was.
Why not? Because I don’t know my characters well enough.
In my experience, a book is so much better when the author knows their characters inside out. Ideally, you know them well enough when it gets to the point that you just set a scene and then stage manage as the characters write themselves.
I’ve had this experience before with other stories I’ve written, and they’ve come out – to my mind, at least – really well. You set the scene and see where it takes you, with the characters taking control. Yet, with this current story, I’m still thinking about how the different characters will react to the situations I’m putting them in. It’s not automatic as yet, or at least it’s not as automatic as I would like it to be.
As a result, it looks like I’ve got a few character-building exercises in front of me, to make sure that I do know these people inside out and back to front, so I can put them in a scene and just give them their heads and see what comes out.
Alternatively, I can just keep writing and see where that takes me.
While I’ve had success with the latter, I’ve heard of great success stories about the former and am wondering if I should give it a try. Is there a real benefit in actively and aggressively moulding your characters, or is it better to let them do it themselves? As such I’m looking for advice, if anyone has much experience with this. Should I go searching out exercises that will develop my characters, or should I keep on writing them and let it happen organically? Which is the better route?
Thanking you in advance. :)