My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Posts tagged ‘character development’

Backstories

I’ve recently been delving into the backstories of some of my secondary characters for Beyond the Dark Divide. I’m finding out that it’s helping me develop the plot to my novel as all these stories interconnect to influence the novel events.

I’ve written summary backstories before for other novels and they’ve helped as well. But this time I think I may try and write a little bit of a narrative for some of them. I don’t want it to take away from my actual novel, but at the same time, who knows what I may find? There may be good short story potential in some of them. If not, well at least it’s helping me develop my world, right?

Have you written backstories for your secondary characters? If so, has it helped you discover something about your work-in-progress?

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Names Chosen & Fleshing Out Characters

Thanks to all of you who helped me by voting on my poll. You all helped me confirm my MC’s name. Her name will be Miyuki. 🙂

Along with that name, I’ve narrowed down names for other characters too. Now comes the task of fleshing them out and making their little biographies. I always do this for my books as it helps me get a better picture of the character in my head. Of course it’s only preliminary since they often reveal hidden aspects of themselves as the story goes along. But it gives me a concrete idea to work from instead of picking through dozens of other characters from other stories in my head. It’s crowded up there and characters can get lost 😛 I suppose it also shows me that I’m one of those writers that tends to need outlines and guidelines in order for me to write. 🙂

When developing characters for your story, do you come up with individual bios for them or do you work best in the moment.? Perhaps your head isn’t as crowded as mine and you are able to summon your character easier than me. I always like to see how other writers work out their stories 🙂 And of course I have another poll.

Pieces Falling Into Place

Don’t you love it when pieces of your story begin to fall into place? Especially if you’re doing historical fiction and you find something that just would be a great fit into your storyline?

Where does this come from, you ask? Well, after my initial idea was found to be quite inaccurate  (see Pitfalls of Historical Fiction entry for more details), I decided to try and make a decision on the path of my novel by doing a little research.

And I think I’m going with path #1.

I know most in the comments were leaning towards #2 but Kaiyo is so firmly established in my head as half Japanese and American that I feel that changing her appearance would essentially be changing her entire character. I really tried to picture her in the second option, but I just couldn’t see her without some other aspect of her personality changing with it. (That and Kaiyo pretty much began to throw a tantrum at me trying to “change” her. Gotta love these tempermental characters.)

So I went looking for something that would make #1 plausible and came across something. Instead of a politician, her father would be the head of a zaibatsu, or a business conglomerate of the time, often family run and operated (See the Wikipedia entry on Zaibatsu here). An example of a zaibatsu is the modern day company  Mitsubishi. They first developed in 1870 as a shipping firm. Of course they eventually expanded into coal mining, shipbuilding, banking, real estate and eventually the auto manufacturer (as well as many other industries today). They were also the same company that developed the Mitsubishi Zero of World War II as well as other famous Japanese bombers.

Anyway, enough of the history lesson. 😛 This information makes it more plausible for my character’s parents to meet. If Kaiyo’s father is the head (or at least someone close to the head of the company) in a similar fictional zaibatsu (loosely based after Mitsubishi) that was a shipping firm, it’s more likely that they would interact and work with American entrepreneurs coming in to “modernize” the country in the late 1860s and 1870s, thus providing an opportunity for her American mother to be introduced to him. Though mixed relationships were still uncommon (especially for an American woman and Japanese man) I do know that the possibility of such is historically accurate as I read about a real, though unnamed, married couple in Clara’s Diary: An American Girl in Meiji Japan.

Also, by 1890, the zaibatsu had significant influence on politics as they would often give substantial amounts of money to the party they supported. This could play a role in the antagonist’s arrival (a member of the terrorist organization Genyosha) and the reasoning behind using Kaiyo as leverage and blackmail. Books and film have portrayed these organizations as often involved in shady dealings and have connections to the yakuza (which would also tie into the novel, although at this point in history the yakuza were still mainly involved in gambling and street peddling).

I have to do more research on this, but I’m thinking that this makes things more realistic and accurate for my book without changing my character and trying to morph her appearance in my mind’s eye. Who knows, it may not work after all and I may be forced to go that route anyway, but for now I’m going to try and make this one work.

Accosted By Characters

It started with my MC Kaiyo. I always thought I understood her–her personality, nuances, motivation, etc. I thought I knew her and what made her tick, so to speak.

I found out I was wrong.

Though I didn’t actually work on any of my writing this weekend (surprise, surprise…), she accosted me. Kaiyo kept shadowing me the entire weekend, being persistent (as she is known for…), telling me more about herself than I’d ever imagined. She’s a lot more complex than I’d originally thought! She practically screamed at me when I was listening to Natalie Grant’s song I Will Not Be Moved  saying this was HER song; this was the cry of her heart. I never understood her completely until I heard it and now there’s a new understanding I have of her and her story.

Now that she’s thoroughly satisfied that I understand her completely, it seems she’s rallied all of the other characters, for now they are coming forward and letting me know that I need to examine them more. 😛

I’m especially surprised by Ryuji, who still tends to be on the mysterious side, but since Kaiyo’s little dare, he’s found himself slightly more emboldened to let me know how I’ve characterized him wrong too 😛 It seems that there’s a slightly darker past that he has that he never let me see before now. I never really knew how much pain he was really in and how brave he was. I’m understanding why he keeps his distance from people now.

And then there’s Iesada, Kaiyo’s estranged father…he too is very secretive and not really certain if I’m to be trusted with his story; however, I’ve discovered an entire backstory of his that he’s let be revealed through other characters…but with his permission of course. He likes to  be difficult with me, but it’s understandable–his rank as oyabun in the yakuza makes him this way.

And I can’t forget the antagonist, Kaemon (as much as I want to!). I know I tend to avoid him, because he’s so intimidating, but I can’t any longer. I’m afraid to see the true depth of his darkness, for I know he enjoys causing others pain and gets some sick joy out of it. I don’t really want to examine his character, but I know that I’m going to have to if I want to tell the story the way it ought to be. (I can hear him already laughing about what I’m going to discover….)

 I’m spending a great deal of time daydreaming and not being quite here in this world as their world and their lives come to the forefront. And of course, as a writer, I am obliged to sit and listen, for it would be a great injustice to ignore them (even though I don’t think I could if I tried!).

I know a great deal of writers are accosted by their characters at odd times and I’m sure that anyone who has characters and stories can understand this 🙂 Even though this entry does make me sound a bit on the crazy side!

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