Bringing a Story to Life – [Building] Character Identity

cartoon-character-identity-card-70930838-2I’m preparing Pawn Storm, Book 6 in the Metatron’s Army series for publication.  While I’ve enjoyed writing the series, I’m particularly excited about this installment.

It’s where it all starts coming together. 

 Hard Work.  Putting together a backstory that supported the story has been a painstaking process.

I knew what happened…I had to explain 

  • How did this happen?
  • Why?

Patience.  I have known this story and where it would lead for years.  Developing the subplots and supporting characters has been fun but I’ve been very eager to see the story arc – rather than any individual book – come to be, and that took time!

I was eager to see it come together but worried if I didn’t slow down the pace of my writing, the story would suffer.

Who Needs Patience?  Slowing the writing pace led to weeks of insomnia.

The need to keep writing was too strong.  I ended up writing my story in my head as I stared up in the dark rather than on the screen. 

In February, as I was putting the final couches on Simultaneous Display, Book 5 in the series, I realized something had to give.

I was losing way too much sleep.

I decided to allow myself the freedom to write with abandon.

The first draft of books 6, 7, 8, and a first draft of Metatron’s Legacy were written in a little under three months.

To be fair, I’d done a little work on 6 last summer – a handful of chapters.

Whew!  It brought great relief to know I had the primary elements down.

I was more than happy to go back later and fill in.

I no longer felt compelled to write mentally before bed though I had to retrain myself to go to sleep.

It took about four days to create the new routine — and it was new.  I could not go back to the way it was before – I tried – was unsuccessful so I did something new.

Rhythm is a Dancer.  Throughout my career, each book I’ve written has come to be in its own way and time.

Sometimes I finished in weeks, sometimes in months.

What I learned from this series is that I need to allow myself the creative freedom to do what I need to.

Otherwise, lots of stress.

Slow down, take it easy.  Some parts of the series could not be rushed.  Getting the heroine where I needed her to go – stepping into her destiny – had to be accomplished over several books.  She didn’t have to grow into the role, she had to earn it.

june103

Hollywood aside, it isn’t realistic to expect someone in their late teens or early twenties to save the universe if they don’t have the credentials [read experience and wisdom] to pull it off.

 

She’s – HOW OLD?  Before I began the series, I realized that by the time my character actually took the reins of command, a lot of time had gone by.

Interestingly, a voice – the muse? – said “What else would you expect?  Do you honestly think someone just out of school, in their early to mid-twenties – with little to no experience – could do what she has to do?”

Good point.  

The wisdom needed to deal with what lay before her could only be earned through experience and that happens over time.

Even people who have a lot of adversity in their lives need to absorb it before putting it to good use.

If you look at the US military – command isn’t handed out to fresh faced kids.  My heroine was going to lead troops – she needed

  • Training
  • Experience
  • Guidance

This meant developing the supporting characters along with my heroine.  She wasn’t the only one who had to accept her identity and authority/right to lead.

You Need Patience!   I couldn’t rush the heroine’s character development.

Other authors may deal with backstory differently.  I did what was best for this series and the characters in it.  I absolutely refused to short-change them.

As I recently stood contemplating the sun shining on buds and blooms, it occurred to me that I’d learned something interesting while building my character.

  • You can tell someone who and what they are but until they accept it, it isn’t true
  • You can tell someone who and what they are not but if they know it and feel it in their heart and soul – you will never convince them otherwise

In other words, we are BORN, not MADE.  No piece of paper or certification will give what we aren’t and the lack of won’t take it.

This played out in the story in an interesting way.  The heroine has a destiny to fulfill and though this has been explained to her, and the reality of it corroborated by events and supporting characters, she hasn’t really come to terms with it.

Yet.  This changes in book 6, though it had already been in the works subconsciously.

Ohhhhh!  To my delight, feedback from my beta reader supported this.

I’d received feedback throughout all the books in the series but in this instance, some of it really stuck out.

  • “I wondered…”
  • “Oh, now I see…”

b57cb3fe060b4e365f4756e99b2b4287w-c264861xd-w685_h860_q80It made me smile because I realized I’d successfully navigated the difficulty of developing a backstory that had to span several books; a backstory that showed a character coming into her own – and into her destiny.

Pawn Storm will be available June 2018.  Trailer coming soon.

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