I want to talk about characters this time.
Aside from my main character, Ash Valerian, I’m not sure I’ve started off a character with more than a vague outline. And, of course, it might be possible to say that I didn’t need to so for Ash, given my first person perspective in the main series and the similarities between Ash and myself.
Being that I’m now ¾ or more through my second book, it seems a little odd sometimes that I’m not planning my people out more comprehensively than that but there you are. Part of me worries that I’m doing a bit of a disservice to my writing (and curiously enough, to the characters themselves) by not doing so but another part of me feels it’s more organic to flesh the characters out as I go along. Usually my starting point is a single element; whether that be an attribute, relationship to an existing character, or just someone when needs to appear in a given situation and just go from there (what each’s starting point was is probably something I’ll detail in the individual character profile pages).
There are undoubtedly a couple of downsides to this method. One of those is potential continuity issues, which I do my best to remedy as I write or revise. The other is I don’t really know which characters are going to ‘click’ for me and which aren’t.
When I attended Bubonicon recently, I was listening to a panel (which, I don’t specifically recall right now) where one of the panelists said that sometimes you don’t know which characters are going to end up being the equivalent of extras and which are going to take centre stage (That’s not the precise analogy that was used but that’s the gist).
I know for a fact I have at least two characters which I originally intended to be single-scene characters, and yet as I mentioned above I’m ¾ of the way through book two and they still keep coming back. I’m sure they’ll keep going into book 3 as well, and possibly beyond if I let them. I’m also sure there are also some characters that haven’t developed as much as I might originally have intended. Some of those may have fallen by the wayside but some will reappear again, so maybe I still have time to do them justice. That’s also one reason why I decided to do the short stories; to give some of those other characters a chance to shine.
As you might guess for what I said above, I don’t always know who (besides Ash, obviously) is going to make it from one book to another. Based on my current recollections, there are at least half a dozen larger characters that carry over from House Valerius to A House Divided. But there are just as many that don’t. Some of those I still hope to use, maybe in House In Exile, maybe elsewhere. And there has been at least one new character from A House Divided that will play a major part in House In Exile.
Beyond that, I’ll just see where they take me.