Writing a Story by Starting off with Characters?
The title speaks for itself. It’s the sort of dilemma that I often have. What I enjoy most about books are not the stories per se (though I do really love the stories), but the characters. Well Maybe that isn’t entirely true…I’m not sure. But for some reason, it often is the case that I think up a character that I really like, but then have no story to put them in. Right now, I have a character that embodies the mystique, beauty and quirkiness that I admire, but no story. I also have about 10 other ones which I came up with while I was younger, that I’ve already decided all know each other, in a world I’ve created since childhood. But no story. I have a new idea and a bunch of old ideas but no place to put them. Be that as it may, I’ve determined that wherever they go, they go together. Do you see how I like to make things hard on myself?
But it’s not entirely true that they no story. It would be quite boring to just come up with a character and simply describe their traits like “smart” “funny” “very very tall” (I can describe things better than that… honest). They also need to have some kind of context and background that makes sense of who they are. Otherwise, they’re not a specific character. They could just be anyone in any book at any time (well maybe not any book, anytime but you get the point). And this is what makes them all the more complicated to mix. You see, my characters have a context and background. In fact each of them are in stories I’ve written. But I like them so much that I want to put them all into one new story. Whilst also keeping some their backgrounds, otherwise I lose them completely.
So where do I go from here? I don’t know. I think I’ll just write short stories that include them. The storylines don’t need to be related, they might even be contradictory. But the characters will remain consistent. I’ll explore them and give them depth. Get to know what they like and don’t like. What they would and wouldn’t do. Their values. Maybe even what they believe about ultimate issues. But in getting to know them, maybe a story will flesh itself out. I don’t really know. What do you think about this? What would you do?