We’ve gotten to Day 17 of Camp NaNoWriMo and of the 30-Day Tarot Writing Challenge, and I won’t lie, I actually didn’t think I’d be able to keep this challenge up for this long! Not on the design part, but in the following aspect. This is been an intense 17 days!
Yesterday we talked about developing your characters’ backstories. Today we’re going to look at how much of it to reveal. This is going to be a simple 3-Card reading. Again, for every character that you developed a backstory for (and you should really consider doing one for every major character, and I can’t stress enough to read Toni Morrison for amazing examples for how to do this), you should do this spread for.
Once you’ve got a backstory for your character, it’s so easy to want to share every aspect of the backstory with your reader. What’s more, it’s tempting to do it as soon as you introduce the character.
What this spread is about is what aspects about the character should be made apparent upon meeting them, and/or directly talked about throughout the story.
It’s up to you to decide when you give the reader this information, but I would advise against introducing Bob who’s family life was rocky, but it spurred him to the cold career of a prison guard, which kept him from seeking any permanent romance in his life—as soon as Bob walks into the room for the first time. These details can be drawn out and dotted throughout the story.
This spread is going to look at each aspect of the character’s life, similarly to yesterday, and given one detail to relate to yesterday’s card C for that row.
Select a signifier which represents the character you’re reading for. This will be put at the top. Likewise, you’re going to use the C Cards that you pulled yesterday for your character, for all the rows with the exception of the Ideology Row (Row 4).
Place the signifiers vertically in the same order as yesterday’s spread. So the C Card for the family Row will got at the top, but C card for Romance will go below it, and the C Card for Profession will go below that.
This will be the information that you relay about your character’s family life background. This is most likely going to be the most difficult one to put into your story, but it can be done. That’s why the act of writing fiction is ‘creative’ [insert winkie face here].
This will be the information that you relay about your character’s romantic background, and their views on it. This one might be easier to sneak into your story since the majority of stories involve a romantic interest.
This final card will show the detail about their professional or educational life. This can be anything from having had to work hard to get to where they are no, or been born on Easy Street. Again, this one will probably be easy to put into your story by reflecting the attitudes co-workers have toward your character, having a resume read, the career your character has, etc.
If you’ll remember, the C Cards from yesterday’s spread had to do with how the background story of each row leaked into the plot, either how it affected your character or how it affected the plot as a whole.
For this final step, you’ll consider how each card drawn relates to the corresponding C Card. Use this card to gain detail into how this affects the plot, and potentially even when this affects the plot, or when the detail is revealed.
Again, because this spread involves reading for multiple characters, I won’t be participating in today’s Accountability. Since I didn’t participate in yesterday’s, there is no accountability for me to relate back to, either.
How is Camp NaNoWriMo treating you? How are your characters evolving? Do you find you’re struggling with it?
Here’s a really helpful episode of the Writing Excuses Podcast to help you get your head around the idea of Data-Dumping in story: ‘Showing Off’