To fully develop your main characters (your protagonist and antagonist), consider where they have come from in both a physical and psychological sense. What does their ‘home’ (or ‘non-home’) mean to them? Place the psychologies of your characters in relationship with the world that formed them. Understanding the spirit of the places your characters call ‘home’ will add to their emotional depth, helping ensure your characters are real, full and rounded.
Think about what makes a reader care about a character. When a reader sees themselves or someone familiar to them in a character’s concept (in their world), the connection is instantaneous and they want to read on.
Every person comes from somewhere, has a ‘home’ or ‘roots’ and a past. Fail to consider the concept of ‘home’ and a character’s past and you miss an opportunity to grow and develop your characters and thereby engage your readers.
I was born in Essex. I left when I was eighteen. I never returned there to live and will never return there to live. I visited (occasionally) and still do visit (occasionally).
Many people gravitate back to their roots, the place they were brought up because of a sense of deep connection or family ties. It may be where they feel most ‘at home’ or where they feel safe. ‘Home’ is the place where a person feels in control and properly oriented in space and time; it is a predictable and secure place. Sadly this was never the case for me.
My childhood years were marked by trauma and emotional abuse and as a consequence, the usual developmental stages into healthy maturity did not happen. In my twenties. thirties and into my forties, I really didn’t know who I was or what I truly thought or felt. Virtually everything I said or did seemed to be fabricated for that particular situation as I had real problems trying to identify what I was thinking or feeling. I didn’t know who I was.
Fortunately, all this is now in the past as I have discovered (and am still discovering) who I really am.
However, despite how far I progress along the road less travelled in search of my true self, the real me, there will always be a part of me that remains tied to my roots. It doesn’t matter how much I blossom, a piece of me will always belong in Essex. As the saying goes: you can take the girl out of Essex, but you can’t take Essex out of the girl.
The roots of a tree stretch deeper than you think but to know your past is to know your future.
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