Writing a prequel to my trilogy had some unexpected benefits for me as I am at the same time preparing my Herezoth trilogy for a second edition and re-release after I took it off Amazon years ago.
Namely, I find myself relating to a couple of characters more than I ever did before. I understand them better now. I learned things about them I didn’t know, and I feel more for them and respect them more than I did.
(This post will start out particular and then move to the more generally applicable, I promise).
Neither character is a protagonist or one of the characters I expected or hoped readers to relate to particularly. So it was always fine that I didn’t connect much with them. But they are not at all unimportant characters. In fact, they are both royals, so everything they do has real repercussions in society and in the major story arc.
I’m really glad, in particular, that I can sympathize on a deeper level with Queen Gracia now. There is more depth to her than I realized. I’m happy to know that.
SEEING MYSELF IN MY CHARACTERS
Every writer needs some basis on which to understand their characters. The way my mind works, I’m HUGE on context, big picture, and making connections between things. This manifests in my approach to writing in that personally, I connect with my characters through seeing aspects of myself in them.
I never saw much of myself in these two characters before. Both make mistakes that are humanly understandable but that, with my conflict avoidant and careful nature, are not the kind of mistake I generally make when I err. Now I am able to recognize more what shaped them to become who they are. I see the depths of fraternal love, in one case, that I never explored before because give the point of view of the trilogy, I couldn’t. I see the depth of trauma and the real grit of perseverance, in another instance, that I wasn’t aware of.
RESPECTING YOUR CHARACTERS (AND ACTING IN CHARITY)
Basically, I have learned that it is more important for me to respect my characters, at least the good guys. And I respect both these characters more now.
It’s a reminder to me that EVERYONE fights battles no one else knows about or can see. People we don’t see eye to eye with or understand have depths of character and capacity for love, persistence, and sacrifice we know nothing of. They have strengths (as well as weaknesses) that we don’t share and are capable of contributions and achievements that could never be ours.
It’s hard to assume the best in people sometimes. It’s hard to assume the things that frustrate and annoy us are coming from a good place. As a Christian, though, when I don’t have proof to the contrary, I know I am called to do just that. Learning more about the lives and motivations of these characters has reminded me of that.
So, what things help you connect to a character you are reading or writing about? Comment below!