When writing fiction you get the opportunity to “make stuff up”. I like the fact that my imagination can run wild. I have the freedom to allow the plot, the dialog, and the characters to run off in the direction they desire. My job is to try and “hold the reigns”.
Character creation is a fun part for me. Once I decide on the main protagonist and antagonist, I start to think about all of the others that will lift up or tear down the story line as the plot evolves. I strive to make the characters believable. I ask myself, “Why will anyone like or hate them”? “What will they be remembered for?” “How will they advance the plot?” “Why should I care about them?” In addition, I work to make sure they aren’t one-dimensional characters. Here are a few additional questions I ask, “Ok, why are they in the book?” “What about them will make the story more interesting?” “If they are introduced, will they have an important impact on the plot? “Will they be memorable?” If I don’t feel strongly about their contribution, then I likely won’t use them.
One last thing is dialog. This was a difficult thing for me. I couldn’t determine how to control the character. I wasn’t sure how to give them the proper voice and still create tension and advance the plot. Someone gave me some great advice, “If you let them, the characters will take the dialog where it needs to go.” My takeaway was to give each character a voice and then let them express what they believe needs to be said. It seems a bit surreal, and I guess it is. But once I allowed this to take place, character dialog and development became easier. Character development is still a work-in-process but I’m getting better at it.