So my current assignment with ScreenCraft is essentially a character sketch. Just fleshing out some backstory in order to create characters that are multidimensional. Nobody likes a flat character. If we want a solid story, then we need solid characters.
I don’t mind doing very brief character sketches…the type that reads like an old school AOL chatroom: ASL (for you youths out there this means Age, Sex, Location). I might describe a bit of how they might look and how they dress. I’ve never really gone beyond the surface of my characters. It’s served me well in the past.
What would happen if I pushed deeper than that? I’ve never really tried. I’ve never thought about what my characters’ parents would be like, or what school was like when they were younger. I’ve never wrote out what their favorite meals would be. Or their favorite movie.
Why wouldn’t I want to do this? To really bring these characters to life I would need to know these things. Instead, I go flat and allow them to present themselves to me as I write. Again, it’s served me well in the past. Yet, I wonder how much richer their dialogue might be if I really knew them. I wonder how much deeper their reactions to things I throw at them would be if I knew how they would react if they were someone in real life.
I know why I react to things certain ways because I know my backstory. I know why my fiancee reacts to things certain ways because I know her backstory. We should love our characters as we love the people in our lives. We know everything possible about those we love and we should apply that same way of thinking to our characters.
So, here’s to creating real backgrounds for my characters. Even the small players in the story. Here’s to knowing the details about our characters from scars to first heartbreak to education to favorite scent to…everything.