Only one problem. I already thought I had plenty of detail for the setting. The rug in the living room was blue with a flower pattern and had a worn trail across it. I told my readers that much. How much more did they need? I didn’t want to have to start skimming my own book! (Yep, I’m one of those readers.) I didn’t want to bore myself, or my readers, with overly in-depth, detailed setting. But, with details, I still wanted to make the story mine, and only mine.
Recently I took part in a course discussing lies people are often subconsciously convinced of from early childhood. These lies affect their worldview and behavior. The instructor had us conduct detailed interviews with our characters that reached beyond the spectrum of what will ever be mentioned in the novel, but this layer, or many layers, of detail will be perceived and felt by your readers. While the last thing you want bogging down your novel is too much back story, you still need to know the history of your characters’ lives and everything that made them the way they are.
Yesterday, a short story of mine, “Fire in a Storm”, was released in the anthology “Out of the Storm”. When I first wrote my main character, he actually played more of a supporting role and all in all fell flat. My second draft pulled him into the limelight, switching everything to his POV, but still he was just a piece of cardboard—two dimensional. Slowly layers were added, most only hinted at within the 5000 word limit. But it’s all there, under the surface…enough that I am tempted to expand his story into a full novel someday. Knowing who he is, it would be so easy. Of course, then I’d have to get to know the heroine a lot better!
They are also like onions…the closer you get, the more they make you cry ;) What are some layers you like to add to your characters?
“Fire in a Storm” by Angela K Couch
“He was secret police and he knew his purpose. Religion was the enemy and God, the deception. Then a glimpse of gold and silver, and the woman who wore it, threatened everything he trusted.”
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