The Emergence of Characters

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When it comes to writing fiction, I’m a planner. I like to pin down important details about characters before I  start writing them. The plot is worked out in a spreadsheet full of story arcs and beats. I know roughly how many words there will be in each chapter.

Despite this, something unplanned always emerges. The characters come alive as I write them, revealing aspects of themselves I never expected. As I spool out a line of logic from tiny references,  small things grow in size. Interests, passions, and quirks all evolve on the screen in front of me. Those characters on the page are inevitably richer and more interesting than the planned versions, and that makes their stories deeper too.

This is the thing about planning.  It’s useful for providing structure and freeing me up to write. But it has its limits. It’s not until I put story to page that the real characters emerge.