My editing (and rewriting) is taking me toward the part of The Paladin where the world really opens up for Jonathan. This means more characters for him to meet and interact with. A big part of writing these characters is learning to make them all individuals. Whether it's someone you're only meeting for one conversation or someone that's going to be integral to the plot later, each character needs to have unique feelings and needs.
I was listening to the Writing Excuses podcast a week or so ago and they talked a bit about fleshing out characters. I want to share something they talked about there. Even if your character has just a small part, giving them something to desire, to set them apart, can make the entire world feel more real.
You have two guards. In a normal scene, your protagonist maybe slips past them without them noticing. Perhaps they drop down from the ceiling and knock them out. But if you want them to be more than just set dressing, think about what makes the guards tick. Someone on the podcast suggested that perhaps one of the guards likes to collect things in pairs because he has twin daughters and likes to give them gifts together. Now, we have a bit of dialogue between the guards in those moments before the protagonist does his thing. The guards seem like real people. If the protagonist has to take one out, there's now an emotional consequence to it.
Another suggestion was to write each scene a second time from the point of view of one of the side characters in the room. Write out how they're feeling, what they're doing, and how they react to the protagonist. After, you can go back and edit the real story to reflect that character's actions, gestures, responses, etc.
Really, it's all about remembering that everyone is the star of their own story. That taxi driver that delivers your protagonist to her job interview, he has a story. Your protagonist was just a small part of his day. Maybe he on the last trip of his shift, so he drove a little more recklessly to get her to her destination so he could cut out early? Maybe she reminds him of a girl he used to date, so he tries a little harder to get her there on time.
Just remember, all your characters should have their own life, their own goals, and their own dreams. And don't forget to be awesome.
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.