Why would a robot call himself Sir? Why would he call his dog Lord? Why would a robot even have a pet?
These are the questions I began to ask myself when contemplating this week’s naming. I needed to justify my name choices with a reason that would make sense in the context of the story.
Justify, justify, justify.
This refrain comes up a lot when I’m writing, or reading, or critiquing. Why would a character do or say something? Why would a society have certain rules? Why would a character’s parents have named her Kaditya?
Why? It’s the most often used word in my critique group. Why does your character think her date is gay? Why is your character attracted to her sister? Why does anyone put up with your characters antics?
If you’ve done the appropriate character development, the answer to the question should be simple and your only work will be in making it understood or accepted (inciting suspension of disbelief) by the reader. But you must do the character development.
Most problems unrelated to plot are due to a lack or hole in character development. Even in a story where the writer has done the due diligence of working out who her character is and why he acts the way he does, there can be other holes.
Holes in the character development of the secondary and tertiary characters.
Did you know that secondary character have motivations that are wholly unrelated to the main character?
Think about it this way: That closeted man on the date with your heroine is the main character in his own life. That girl who is flirting with the half-sister she just met has had a full life leading up to that moment. That acquaintance of your character has had other experiences that morning which will affect how he reacts to any antics.
Your other characters are not there just to further the plot or to populate your main character’s world, they are “real” people with their own reasons for telling you that they are interested in another guy or crying when you say another guy isn’t much of a golfer.
Make sure that you have shown the readers a good enough reason why the secondary character acts the way she does, so that the reader isn’t thrown out of the “reality” of your story and back into the bookstore where there are better written characters waiting to be read.