Time slowly draws near to the holidays, decorating the trees with ornaments and tinsel, the houses with lights and colors, and the hearts and souls of people with that special kind of joy. Personally, I celebrate Christmas, but my friends celebrate in many other ways ranging from Hanukkah to Yule and not one is type of celebration is more important than the other. What is important, though, is family. Spending time with family, friends and loved ones is what this winter season is all about. I honestly believe that.
Another thing I believe is that in order to create a truly believable character you need to incorporate friends and family. You don’t need to invent a new holiday in your story to do so (although, who would say no to a Beat the Bots day or a Moon Gathering?) but you should, at the very least, introduce your readers to the presence of family and friends.
Family can be involved in the character’s life in many different ways. It can be something as vague as mentioning them in passing, as simple as a flashback, or as direct as having the readers encounter them in person at some point. But regardless if the main character’s parents are dead, living, or something in between, they have structured your character, they are important to them, and they should be addressed as such at one point or another.
Friends should also be involved in the character’s life. Even that stereotypical loner guy has one person (or animal or being of some sort) they call a friend. Side-stories and subplots can come from these friendships – the quest for the girl or guy, the fight breaking out in the corroder, the brunch in the café. It’s good to round out your main character with the people who regularly surround them.
See, instead of focusing on one or two (or five?) characters, you need a whole world of them. You don’t need to introduce them all, of course, but, just like I would never know everyone in my world but I do know a few, your characters should know a few as well.
That’s one thing I’m missing in my NaNoNovel – yes, I’m still working on it! Almost complete actually, with the first draft at least. – I couldn’t believe when I got to the 5th chapter from the end and had not yet added a solid friend (or even a peripheral one) to one of my main characters. My entire work had shrunk into three people. Three people! There is an entire world to work with and my focus narrowed down to my main characters. Hence this being only my first draft.
It’s okay to do that, though, okay incorporate more characters later, just as it’s okay to slash characters later too. As long as the end product is something that makes sense, something that you’re proud of, and something that reflects the realities (or your world’s realities) of life, you’re golden.
I have always loved the holiday season, spending time with friends and family, just enjoying their company and enjoying life. Your characters – no matter how old, young, solitary or social they may be – should have that circle of companions in their life too.
May the holidays treat you well and see you next Friday!