In my steampunk/fantasy book series, beginning with After Earth: Journey To The Black City, I wanted to develop believable protagonists and antagonists. Too many times, the latter are more or less overlooked in stories and in films. Ask yourself, how many films have I seen where the ‘bad guys’ are simply convenient targets for the ‘good guys’ to shoot at? Do you ever wonder who they are? Do you ever wonder, why are they bad guys? I do.
In books and movies, one of the things I always wonder about and am rarely shown is the back-story to the characters. Who are they, really? Just like the people we know in our life…just like the person we are, our history goes a long way in making us who and what we are. Our past, to a great extent, explains our present. Our past explains our thinking, reasoning, and our motives. It explains our character. It can also explain the way we express ourselves—to we solve problems with calm discussion, or with rising voice and bluster?
I try to think of my characters as real people, and as such, they have a history that I feel compelled to share with my reader, so they too understand the motives and actions of the character. What were they like as children? What events in their early lives helped make them into the adults they might be in the story? This, in my opinion, is what makes the character ‘real’ and believable. Knowing the past history of the character also allows me to write a character that is consistent. By that I mean having solid reasons for doing things the things that they do, at least in their own minds. I want my characters to be three-dimensional.