Viva la character profile!
In my attempt to get this short story written, I’ve already promised myself (and you, my faithful reader) an outline of the story. After long straining, I have one, of sorts. But, there just seemed to be something missing. The outline was boring in a way. I had no reason to believe that these things would happen to my main character.
That was when I realized I had been going at it the wrong way entirely. I usually start a story with a Neat Idea, if you know what I mean. For this particular story, the Neat Idea was a mining asteroid. I began to think about what kind of story I could make on an asteroid that was being mined for materials. Pretty soon I had a couple of characters and an attention-grabbing opening scene. And that was it. There was no story to go with it. Fizzle.
That’s why it’s been in my ToDo box for all these years. Years! When I put together my Project List, this story went onto it, and now I am finally giving it some attention.
Back to present. After knocking together my paltry outline, I realized that I knew next to nothing about the main character. Why was he on the asteroid? I started to write a character profile for him, fleshing out what had happened to him in the recent past, and what pushed him into such a desperate situation. I’m happy to say that I understand ol’ Les a lot better now. I can now work on the other three characters’ profiles, which should give me some more crucial insight into motivations and personality. Needless to say, only a fraction of this material will go into the story. But, it’s not often that a character springs fully formed from my forehead. I should spend more time getting to know these people, and then the story will come out.
This might just work for me for other Neat Ideas I have. If I can get the character motivations worked out, then maybe it will become more obvious how they fit into my Neat Idea and from that a plot just. might. happen.