(WARNING: Spoilers for my forthcoming novel lay ahead. Read with caution).
The other night, Tyler and I were watching the first episode of this season's Nip/Tuck (Note: This was the first episode I've ever watched of Nip/Tuck, and I think I'm already kind of hooked - but that's a different post for a different day).
When Sean McNamara got stabbed in the back by that crazy, old lady, Tyler expressed shock that Sean didn't try to turn around and knock the knife out of her hands. I immediately referenced Charlotte - the main historical character in my novel - and how she killed her victim with one, perfectly placed stroke. Historians say that had she stabbed him one centimeter below, she would have hit a rib, resulting in just a minor wound instead of near-instantaneous death.
I've been doing this a lot lately. Things I see or talk about inevitably result in me referencing Charlotte in some way, as if I actually knew her. That's how well I know her and her life. It also reminds me of how little I know of my other character, Anne, in comparison.
Granted, Anne is fictional, so I had to start from scratch with her, whereas I just read a ton about Charlotte and just had to fill in what the history books left out. I need to get to a point, though, where it feels like Anne is a historical character too. I need to know the everyday and mundane things about Anne, like her favorite color or favorite drink, just as much as I need to know her life-changing moments, like how she found out her mother died when she was just eight-years-old. I need to be able to reference Anne's life, as if she was real, as if she was human - just like I do with Charlotte.
So, this is what I've been doing lately with my novel: I'm revising, but I'm also going back to my original character sketches. I'm filling them out more, writing more background - not to include in the story, but just to know. Because if this novel is going to be about Anne and Charlotte - I need to know every detail I possibly can about both of them, whether it's fiction or not.