Kickstarter Update #3: Developing Strong Characters

You can also read this update on Kickstarter.

Characters are the backbone of any good story. Most writers I know will tell you that a good character makes the story practically write itself; the story lives and thrives on the character’s actions, decisions, and troubles. Developing a strong character is probably one of the most important steps in any piece of writing. You can have an interesting plot, be it a war, a mystery, or a global disaster, and lose the interest of your readers if they don’t care about the people who are involved in the fighting, who are solving the mystery, or who are surviving after the disaster.

I’ve come to believe that it helps a great deal to develop the character in advance, before the story begins. That’s how it happened with my series. The two main protagonists, Gabby and Tock, were originally written in dozens of short stories long before I began work on “Manifestation.” When I started the novel, it was like “rebooting” them; I started their lives over from the beginning, with an idea of where I would take these characters and how they would develop along the way. It made a big difference, since I already knew how they would react to certain events in their lives, and it was just a matter of getting the new story developed until those events occurred.

Interesting characters are a big part of the reason I’m also developing this series to include a number of short stories. “Radiance” is, on one level, about magic returning to the world. On a deeper level, however, it’s about exploring the character of Maria, the story’s protagonist. While a short story can only delve so much into the life of a character, there were many ways in which Maria’s character directly influenced the story’s outcome. The decision she makes at the end of the story shows what she values most in life, and she uses her new-found magic to protect that which she values.

I won’t say more about Maria’s life and decisions since I don’t want to spoil the story. The point, however, is that her emotions and her decisions as a character are what makes “Radiance” the story that it is. I’m planning on having Maria return in later parts of the series, and it makes a big difference knowing what her history and her motivations are. From that perspective, “Radiance” is somewhat like a prologue or origin story, showing us where Maria comes from and what set her on her path. This is also why I have so many other short stories planned. There are a lot more characters in the “Arcana Revived” series than just Gabby and Tock; those two just steal the spotlight since they’re the main characters of the novels. Some of the short stories I’m planning are based on characters that are minor parts of the novels, but have deep enough backgrounds to deserve their own chance to shine. Giving each one their own short story on the side gives the reader a glimpse into that character’s life in a way the novels can’t.

Hopefully this project, getting “Radiance” self-published, will be just the first of many projects that let me share the lives of these characters with everyone who wants to read about them.

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