When you begin the process of building a new character, a lot of things come into play. It’s something that goes far deeper than just their appearance or some of the basic traits and defining them as a good guy or a bad guy. It’s about finding out their strengths and weaknesses, those moments that make them thrive, the secrets they have that could bring them down. You need to know what they would do when they’re cornered, would they cower in fear or would they fight their way back out? There are a lot of questions to ask, and when you have a big project, it can get overwhelming. Faces start mingling with names, and you ask was he one of the good guys or one of the bad guys?
It’s times like these that need to be taken advantage of. If you can’t put a face to the name, then how vital is this person going to be in the story? The question we’ve asked ourselves this weekend has been a simple but important one. Are they needed, or are they wanted? Are people still there just to keep our wants and desire sated, or are we keeping them because they’re good for the story? Or are we struggling with some underlying abandonment issues?
Probably all of the above, because in every character we have made, we’ve put a piece of ourselves into them. It’s impossible not to. I don’t think we can point at any characters and say: ‘that one does not have a smidge of either of us in them!’ And if we can.. That character is not a properly developed one. I’m not saying we have the whole process of character building down to a fine and flawless art.. far from it. If anything we have a hauntingly long sheet that we work with to get into the nitty gritty that we found online. It has taken us time to get to this level. To make our characters with conviction, purpose, and with a little bit of ourselves in them, so that we can relate to them, and feel with them.
Which is not always a fun thing, I’ll tell you that! When the time comes and you have to say goodbye to one of them because they just won’t work no matter what you do? That can leave a bit of a sting. And the worst thing? It’s probably something we should have done a long time ago. Sometimes it’s that emotional connection to some of our lost people, that drives us into wild attempts to bring them back.. just slightly differently. But it doesn’t work.
We’re getting close to THAT moment. The moment where we can let out a breath and say ‘This is it.’ We’re close. We let out a similarly content sigh last weekend when we got the bare bones of our story down on paper. Ideas that have been in our heads, but when discussed and put on paper, it makes it look real, clear and organised. They’re no longer snippets of knowledge and a vague idea of where to go. We have a plan.
We still have some of the details to figure out, including what characters we want to bring into the field with us. We’ve been harsh, as we’ve looked at our characters, and will continue to be harsh in future reviews until we get it just right. Inadvertently it’s also given us a gap or two to fill in, allowing us to start the process of character building all over again. But with every step we take – big or small – we get a little closer to THAT moment.