I’m stuck in the middle of editing the zero draft of The Patchwork King right now. It’s slow going; I can only desecrate so many pages in a sitting before my brain rolls out my ear. But it’s progress nonetheless.
One of the biggest things that I need to fix is some of the secondary characters. Those people that play a role, and an important one, but aren’t in the Inner Circle of Main Cast. Most of them are a little…cardboard-y. They need a spark of life. So I’ve been going back through most of the character exercises I’ve put up here in an attempt to give them the je ne sais quoi they badly need.
And, on that topic, I’ve got another one. This one was inspired by a character in the zero draft of the novel who appears to do nothing else but wait around to be relevant to the plot. Which is very helpful of her, but makes her feel like one of the NPCs in an adventure video game. I feel like if I come back and talk to her in five minutes, she’ll be saying the exact same shit.
The point is this woman should do other stuff. She needs to, or she’s just a plot device, not a character. Your characters have choices about what to do with their time. Everybody does, even if they’re the Dreaded Midday Assassin for the Panda Queen.* Sit down and riddle me this: what’s their favourite thing to do? And why?
For some, their favourite thing to do might be work, which says something about them.** Others play games, have hobbies, work on skills. They read, listen to music, crochet merkins for charity. They drink, smoke, fight, fuck, or sit around and do absolutely nothing. And, because we’re writers, sometimes our characters love to do terrible things, to themselves and others.
So your Monday Challenge this week is to decide what one of your characters loves to do more than anything else, and then to tell me why. I’ll be over here, going through an entire list of secondary characters, doing the same thing.
*Though their time might be taken up with getting a better assassination time slot. Midday assassin can’t be easy.
**Either they have a job they love or their life is very, very empty.