Getting to know your characters is the most important aspect of plot for me. A good story develops from the decisions, the reactions and responses a character makes in relation to given circumstances.
The economy collapses!
But who your character is will determine what she does in response: marry a millionaire, start her own business, join a revolution, write a poem, run for political office, move to another country. So getting to know your characters is really a way of coming to terms with the story you want to tell.
Stories are like life: there are the cards you are given at birth and the way you play those cards. It’s important to push ourselves to reveal and come to terms with the cards our main character has been dealt. It’s important to explore the limits, the boundaries of that character’s beliefs because understanding those limits will create dramatic tension throughout the story and catalyze the plot point.
Here are the words of the great poet Rumi:
A story is like water
that you heat for your bath.
It takes messages between the fire
and your skin. It lets them meet,
and it cleans you!
Very few can sit down
in the middle of the fire itself
like a salamander or Abraham.
We need intermediaries.
A feeling of fullness comes,
but usually it takes some bread
to bring it.
Beauty surrounds us,
but usually we need to be walking
in a garden to know it.
The body itself is a screen
to shield and partially reveal
to light that’s blazing
inside your presence.
Water, stories, the body,
all the things we do, are mediums
that hide and show what’s hidden.
and enjoy this being washed
with a secret we sometimes know,
and then not.