Today at church the sermon was called “So, Sow.” The verse the pastor read was Psalms 126: 1-6. He emphasized the last two verses 5 and 6 which read: “They that sow in tears shall reap and joy. He that goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
This is an interesting verse considering it probably pertains to many of us. I know it does for me more than a handful of times. My main character in my story would be considered the seed. Now, I can either build up this character’s background by writing about it from the beginning of the novel or through flashback throughout the story. What if we decided we just wanted to write his adventure and totally ignore his background? In my opinion, that’s not doing a book justice.
Think about, Harry Potter discovered that he was a wizard because of letters from Hogwarts pulling him to come to the school of witchcraft and wizardry. He was confused at first about it because he heard rumors from his aunt and uncle about his parents that at the time seemed possible. If his aunt and uncle had told him the truth in the first place, they would have never gone to that rock in the middle of the ocean, and Hagrid would have never had to go through the trouble of retrieving him from them. Then, you start to learn more about his parents and why he has a scar over his forehead. Also, you learn about his background with his parents fighting Voldemort and some of the history they had at Hogwarts. Honestly, being able to see a character grow through experiences, and stories that were never told to them is much better than him going straight to school. Seriously, he’d just be another student studying ever year without any real significance other than having a wand and a bunch of friends.
Instead of jumping straight into the story about a character and not putting much thought to it is a injustice to your writing. I mean, can a person really build feelings for their characters through just sentences like: “And then this happened…” and “Finally, he did that task without having to go through that obstacle.” This kind of writing is very bland for your readers.
I currently give my advice to a few writers in my community, and I’ll read some of their paragraphs and know what they are trying to portray, but they are mostly telling me what’s happening. It’s not the character living out the experience in the writing. It’s not two people discussing a problem, but a problem being narrated to me like the characters are just another grain of dry sand. I actually chuckled once cause I had a writer tell me they just like to “Wing it.” They don’t do much planning cause there’s no emotion to planning a character. Maybe that is true, but sometimes planning and outlining will help you remember what happened in the past.
For instance, you’re halfway through the novel and you originally write about a character that has gone through a traumatic accident in her past and she is suffering from PTSD. You write this whole introduction about how she has suffered and how she is fighting through her disorder. Then, instead of writing about her in a car accident, you decide, hey what is she wen through an abusive relationship. Okay, now, you’ve just changed your whole story. All of the scenes that you wrote about her being frightened of cars, is now her insecurities around men or other people.
An outline does help and it will sow that seed that you want to last forever in your readers’ mouths. If you put forth the effort to build your main character, it will grow on its own until it turns into something greater. A strong background is the foundation to creating all the other elements that fall into place in your story. Plus, you’ll get more praise for it from your readers.
Have patience and don’t rush your writing.