I am currently working on designing the characters for my new project. I knew the main character and the basic story arc, but the project wasn’t moving along smoothly because I didn’t really understand anyone else in the story. All the other characters felt like cardboard cutouts. So I started planning out several of the other major characters, and now I’ve got a much better (and somewhat different) plan for the story based on the characters. Which is good.
The bad guys in this story are aliens. I haven’t planned out any of their characters. Heck, I haven’t even named them. They weren’t even on my first list of characters to plan, even though my main character is going to spend a significant chunk of time with them. They’re just nameless, faceless (literally, in this case) bad guys. And I could leave them like that.
In fact, it’s tempting to leave it like that. They’re the bad guys, after all. Why would I want to spend time in their heads? Why would I want to think about them like they are actually individuals? Why don’t I just label them as evil and give them some repulsive philosophy and be done with them?
I think there’s a good reason not to. Because just as planning out my character’s friends has made the story much better and richer, I think planning out my character’s enemies is going to enrich it as well. And planning out aliens (even evil ones) is generally fun.
So that’s my plan for my writing time this weekend … understanding my bad guys.