This is actually something of an update.
A few days ago I whined to Tamara about my writing. I’ve got an absolutely glorious (in my opinion) world and environment that forces my characters to act. I’ve roughed out the general arc, arranged surprises for characters and readers. I polished the rules of make-believe so they stay reasonably consistent throughout.
And then I roughed my characters. Just the two primary protagonists, just so I could start moving them. I’ve got their backstory, their habits, a couple of hobbies, … Heck, I know that one has a non-chekovian fondness for pistachio ice cream.
But when I try to put them in the story and let them run, they sit. They become fancy pieces of cardboard, moving lifelessly through events.
I wanted to scream. Instead, as I said, I whined to Tamara.
Now, the advice she gave me was good – good enough I’m going to share the critical point (but let her do any long stuff). “Know the character’s failings.” Figure out their inadequacies, their bad side. And then figure out what they do to hide that from everybody including themselves.
It almost worked for me. Heck, let me be honest and say it got me a few steps closer to having people in my story. But not quite. Not really. I had to do a little bit more.
I did a “day in the life” for each, one that intentionally exposed at least one of the faults I’d decided upon. Literally, I followed Mike as he got up, did his morning shower, shave, and breakfast. Followed him to work, followed him around the warehouse (and incidentally met some more people who may or may not turn up in the book). Followed him as he, well, failed and fell and rose and continued and then groused his way to the end of day with a couple of beers and bed.
I actually think I know who Mike is. Wendi, too. I may not use any of these two ‘days in the life’. I may use copious amounts. It doesn’t matter. What it did for me was give me some PEOPLE in a couple thousand words of rambling.
I do not know if it will work for you. I’m sharing because it seems to have worked for me so I can hope it works for you.