March 16, 2012

About Character Development: Kimberly Lin

Today I have a guest post by Kimberly Lin about one of my favorite parts of Recession Proof the character development. Enjoy!
You know, I want to sound all professional and say that I know what I'm doing and that I have a great process for creating characters but the truth is I really don't. (Side note: I should probably be filtering myself in this guest post, however running amagazine has taken over my life)  In the same way, I don't measure out my ingredients when I cook, I don't really know what goes into my character development. All I can say is that I think of them as real life people that have psychological, societal and familial reasons for doing the things they do. 

I've heard many authors say that they must get to know their characters as they write and this is very true for me. The easy part was picking what I wanted to write about because it was something that I was experiencing at the time. The tough part was identifying the various reasons why my characters have the fears they do and why they react the way they do.

For Helen, (and this is very different from my own life so it was a challenge)— her parent's separation, her mother's abandonment and her fears of being ostracized from her new family unit really were the catalysts and the underlying reasons of why she chose to give up her passions and settle for status quo. She didn't want to rock the boat and sacrificed her own happiness in the meantime. I started writing Helen's journey and reactions but I didn't write this back story into the first chapter until I actually finished the book. It took me thirty chapters to fully understand her and as I write this now— it is very similar to when a person goes to therapy to examine why they do what they do.

I pay as much attention to my supporting characters as much as I do to my main characters. I tend to provide the back story as I introduce them into the story just so the reader feels well-acquainted with them and genuinely cares about what happens to them.

All in all, it's a really fun process to play make believe and I'm just glad and thankful that Recession Proof has gotten the response it has.

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