More on details
The internet here is atrocious today, so you’re getting an update via smartphone. Which is tedious because I have big, fat fingers and a finicky spellcheck. Still, nothing will stand in the way of my blogging.
Today I thought I’d talk a little bit about world and character building. Now, I’ve heard a lot of conflicting opinions on the matter, so I’m very curious to hear your thoughts. I suppose the topic can be boiled down to a single question: how deep is too deep?
Now, I’m not talking about info dumps and details like last time. I mean for you, the writer, how much do you need to know about your world and characters before you can write them. I’ve always been of the mind that you can’t have too many details. If I know a character is allergic to peanuts, hey, that might not come up in the first couple of stories. But I know if the presents itself, I can go off from there.
On the other hand, the writers behind the Writing Excuses podcast seem to think that you don’t need to know any more about a character than your reader does until it comes into play in your writing. It’s kind of a form of discovery writing. I can appreciate that, and I suppose to a certain degree I have done that. Jonathan has certainly changed a lot from his initial characterization (he was originally an 80 year old man!). But once I understood what the story I was writing looked like, I feel like I’ve done a lot of background work on these characters.
Perhaps the ideal is to meet somewhere in between; have enough detail to start writing, but pause to flesh out characters when needed. After all, if you take too long, you may never end up writing your story. But at the same time, if you don’t know who your characters are inside, you can’t write them consistently.
What are your thoughts? Please share and let’s have a discussion. And remember: Be excellent to each other.
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Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.