Last Friday we talked about making sure your characters are accurate, and some general things to look for with your characters.
The temptation is to take all your wonderful research, all the cool knowledge you have about your characters, and work it in as quickly as you can so that your reader will fully understand your characters. Because once they fully understand them, then they'll be able to fully sympathize with them. Right? Right?!
Think back-if you knew everything about your spouse or significant other when you met them, would you still go forward? Perhaps it's best if we fall in love layer by layer....your reader wants to dive into the story, and too much too soon just bogs it down. If you dump your hero's entire bio onto the page, not only will it seem forced, but it will also lack impact. The fun of getting to know a character is discovering who they are and what makes them tic. The best part of a book is discovering the dark secret, or desperate motivation behind their actions. If you reveal it all at once it lacks punch, and you've stolen the emotional impact of the story from the reader.
That's such a clear explanation of why we need to reveal our characters bit by bit rather than all at once. Even if you're not married, I think we all get her point. If on the day my best friend and I met I dumped all my inner junk on her ("Hey, nice bag. I'm Stephanie. So, I tend to be pretty controlling in relationships, and sometimes I'll totally flake out on you....") she probably would not have emailed me after we got home from the conference.
So now that you've taken the time to develop your characters, look at your manuscript and make sure you're not guilty of dumping character bios into the first couple chapters. Mark places where you have, and be on the lookout for spots where you can do a better job of weaving in that information.