How well do you know your significant other? Do you know where and when your best friend went to middle school? Do you know your sibling’s deepest secrets? Do you know if your mother had a first love before she met your father? Or if your older cousin dropped out of sight and out of touch for several years?
We are often attracted to people because they hold some mystery for us and we find that challenging, frustrating, and alluring.
So, you ask, how does that apply to my novel?
Don’t aim to or pretend to know everything about your main characters, including your hero. Do not collect every biographical fact and think that will tell you how your hero will react under fire.
Do aim to understand enough about your primary characters to know how they will respond emotionally to the birth of their first child, the death of a parent, the disappearance of an old friend. Track the emotional resonance, the threads, and sort out the difference between their “rational face” from their “irrational face.”
Don’t judge them.
Do try to grow to understand them as you watch them make choices.
Do look for the difference between what they say and what they do.
Do look for their code of honor, their center of right–or the lack of it.
Do try to see the world through their eyes, if only for moments at a time.
Do try to understand their desire, their yearnings, their hunger.
Don’t fool yourself that you know them inside and out.
Do embrace the mystery of each of them–and surrender to the fact they will surprise you.
Much gratitude on Veterans’ Day to all who serve, past, present and future~Sarah