Killing Your Darlings- Character Development

When I’m in the thick of writing, I laughingly tell my friends, “I love you, but it’s time to hang out with my imaginary friends.” It’s like our secret code to let them know I’m not being a total jerk-face when I turn down hanging out to write. Although it’s a joke, the heart of it has some bite. Imaginary friends? What am I— like 6 years old— trapped in my own version of Drop Dead Fred? But in a way, we all do this. When we’re lost in reading a book, characters become real in the imagination. The heart of every great and epic story is in the characters and whether or not readers care for them, and this caring is what brings them to “life.” Growing up as a book obsessed girl, I always felt this way. The characters in my favorite books taught me just as much as the characters in my own life saga, and, in some corny/awkward way, they became my friends. But as an author, there is a different level of responsibility to this relationship.There has to be more care taken in how a character is approached, because, like all parents, I have the potential to really screw someone up. The development of a character is very similar to the development of a person. They have personalities, fears, hopes, and dreams, and one wrong move on my part can really stunt their growth— and my story. Most people do not realize this, but Vagabond was not the first novel I finished. The first novel I finished was Intrepid, and it has been sitting and simmering all...