Hello again, my little writers! Today we’re going to discuss character backgrounds, why they’re important, and how their past has an effect on their sense of self. Backgrounds, no matter how simple or how complex, shape the character of a person. Someone raised in a small town may generally want a small town life, but not if they’ve been influenced by some outside force. That desire has to begin somewhere and grow from something.
Character backgrounds are made up of many pieces, like a puzzle. Some of these pieces include: upbringing, culture, experiences, and environment. All of these pieces play a role in how a character’s personality is formed, and a character’s personality can affect how they react to their life events. It’s like a hoop, or a circle that never ends.
Upbringing is possibly the trickiest part of a background, as there are no rules to how your character might be changed by this. It’s important, however, that regardless of their reaction, every major life event somehow changes them. In my book, several of my characters were orphaned. For some of them, this was completely devastating and even debilitating, but for others it was freeing. A couple of my characters were victims to constant abuse, and where one was compelled to help others, another was lead to become an abuser.
A character’s culture and environment, whether domestic or social shape their worldview, for better or worse. Someone born into a hostile environment may not find hostility to be so unusual. Maybe being defensive seems normal to them. A character raised by a culture of strict moral grounds would be shocked by anyone who doesn’t follow a similar code. It’s important to think of how these things change someone.
Experiences are a vital part of our psyche. There are no important events that do not change us. Whether we look at our happy events such as weddings, births, or vacations, or tragic events such as loss, sickness, or brutality; they change us, how we look at our life, our priorities, our reactions. Just as these experiences muddy our waters, they will do the same for your characters.
Encompassing many of these element into your characters background gives them reason to behave the way they do. Everyone has a story and it’s your job to tell it. Just remember not to get too involved, background is only one of the many parts of a character!
Next week we’ll go over personality, how to make the bland interesting, and to make the incredible credible!
Cara Rowen is a Los Angeles artist, poet and writer working on her first novel entitled Dust. A hard working member of Soapbox International’s Danger Team, with a strong dedication to the arts and giving back to the community, she has interest in geek culture and humor, fashion, baking, and music. Cara Rowen is known for her fun, bubbly, and sarcastic personality.
Latest posts by Cara Rowen (see all)
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