In my study of developing characters in fiction, I have come across many wonderful worksheets and tips on getting to know my characters. Today I read an article on Novel Rocket by guest blogger Cindy Woodsmall , dated 8/12/2009,. She introduces the concept of the “4-B’s of Character Development– Before, Behind, Between, Begin.”
It got me thinking and looking deeper into the subject of knowing your characters. What she was describing sounded like world building, not just scene and setting development.
Building a scene or setting is necessary to story writing, but taking the time to build an understanding of the world they live in seems overwhelming. It makes sense to do so, however. If you know what molded your character, their history, unique genetics, family and cultural background, they become more alive and complete. Characters can gain richness and authenticity. Plus, consistency in speech and action as well as dialog should flow more naturally.
SciFi and fantasy writers aren’t the only ones to benefit from world building. I believe what Ms Woodsmall is advocating is similar.
To become an author is relatively easy if you keep at writing. But to develop into a “good” author requires learning the craft and how to make the “magic” happen. That requires perseverance and dedication.
Here’s the summary of this lesson learned, and I am adding it to my page: Lessons I’m Learning… on my journey to becoming an author.
#8 World Building isn’t just a SciFi writers thing. In order to have depth, and have your characters truly speak for themselves — you must know what makes up their world. Scenes and settings should be a reflection of their world. Where did they come from culturally? What were their parental and familial influences? Genetic hereditary? Geographical, spiritual, historical, political influences? How did their specific background mold them into the unique individual they have become? Add to this their present situation and circumstances, what they look like– their habits, pursuits and activities, likes and dislikes,–and you will know them deeply. Once you have built “their world,” they can spring to life and speak for themselves.