I think the hardest part of letting go of one project and moving on to a new WIP (work in progress) is letting go of the characters. At least for me, it take about fifty pages of a rough draft before i get a real good grip on a character. What makes them tick and their idiosyncrasies take time to come to the surface. After several months not only building the story, but layering the characters, they are no longer cut–out dolls, but they take shape in my mind and their voices whisper the story in my ear.
By the time I type “The End,” they are like old friends.
And moving on to a new project often means saying goodbye.
Goodbye can be hard, but life is about moving forward, making new friends and spinning new tales.
And how do strangers, virtual and otherwise, become friends? Through a getting to know each other phase, which takes us back to those first fifty pages.
Some other tricks that help paper cut out ‘concepts’ become real characters who grow into dear friends:
Pictures — This is a relatively new step for me, but it’s become a necessity. For two previous characters (In two previous works) a character that had little depth for me, suddenly became very real when I had an image. And while writing in that character’s POV, if I get stuck the remedy seems to be pulling the picture up. Suddenly mannerism show themselves and a dialect develops.
Character charts – There’s 1,000 or more of these on the internet and they all look very much the same. While they may seem generic (What can eye and hair color really tell you about a person) Thinking about the characteristics does help you dig deeper. I also find these are an awesome reference to keep computer side for when you forget what you said the hero’s eyes were in chapter 1. (And yes, this has happened to me.)
How do you develop your characters? Do you have tricks for digging deep before you begin to write?