Getting stuck

I’m doing the dialog upgrading thing again, but this one is hard. It’s a conversation between three characters, but the topic is kind of dry. Also, I only have the voice completely worked out for two of them. The third on started life as a minor character, but then outlived most of the other characters so she got a bump up.

Thing is, because of how she started out I don’t really have a clear picture of her. Now I’m in final revisions of my book, with less than 10k words left to edit, and I need to figure out who she is.

So here’s the plan: I’m going to take a look at the people I know in life who have things in common with her, circumstances, etc. and I’m going to build a Frankenstein’s monster out of the bits. She’s military, so I’m taking all the women I have met who have served, and seeing what they are like. She’s from a poor background, so all the people I know who grew up poor. She’s bi, so all the bi girls get dumped into the mix. Then I’m going to figure out more details – is she a rebel? How did she fare in school? What was life like for her in high school in particular? Does she like cats? Does she like dogs? What is her favourite food? I have a huge number of questions that I ask about a character, and I have a number of other resources I go to for more questions (charahub is the latest one – a decent tool for tracking characters). I have to do this for the conversation to work, and I didn’t think I had any more characters I had to do this for (most of the remaining characters either have had the process done or are so minor that it doesn’t matter what their personality is – does anyone really care about the guy who opens the door in chapter 35? I didn’t think so).

It’s a pain in the butt, but it has to happen. If a character fills enough of a role that the way they feel about things matters to the story I have to know who they are.

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