I’ve found that as I go through life, that the experiences I live through have changed me as a person. I mean, I’m always going to be Jennifer, but at times life forces you to see things differently, to alter your ways of thinking enough to change how you will react in the future. This would include both good and bad experiences.
I like to think about this when I’m outlining a book. In the beginning I will have a basic description of what a character is like. Nothing too detailed, but I like a starting point. When I outline the end of the book, I think about how each of the main characters developed through the events of the books. So far my novels have been fraught with dramatic events, the kind that shake the foundations of who you thought you were. How did those events effect my characters? There should be some subtle differences.
I’d also say that the author herself has changed becuase of the writing of her novels. I’m a more self-assured person. I started off suspecting I was a good writer, now I know I am. I’ve gained an incredible amount of information on what it means to write and self-publish my works, but I still have a lot to learn … and quite frankly, I’m glad of it. I wouldn’t want there to be a day in my life where I thought I knew it all. On that day … I’d be delusional.
When I finish that first draft of a novel and go back to re-read and edit it, one of the things I’m thinking in the back of my mind, is what is different about the characters from the beginning of the book to the end of the book. For my protagonist, Sara, in the first book, she learns startling truths about her past and her family’s secrets. Just about everything she thought about herself was wrong. How would that change you as person to learn such a thing? For Sara, it’s both a good and a bad thing. She gains wisdom, the understanding of events that have baffled her for years. But she also gains a knowledge that is a burden to bear. She is freer at the end of the book, but she’s also cautious of the unknown future she’s stepping into.
For Daniel, one of my other main characters, he starts out as a completely self-contained person. He lives in a prison of fear and self-repression. He’s freed from so much of this fears and insecurities through the events of this first novel. He still has things to work through, but he’s out of that prison.
My characters, like everyone on this planet, are on a journey. No one escapes unscathed by life’s storms and triumphs. When pouring your story out on paper, I think it’s key to remember that, and reflect it in how your characters relate to the universe they live in.