Sunday, November 25, 2007

Characters...continued

So...how do you come up with believable characters? There are many great references out there on how to develop good characters. Here are just some thoughts...

You need STRONG, interesting main characters. Unique. Interesting--with an unexpected twist. A clich├ęd character has predictable traits....as in a gentle, sweet teacher. An honorable, donut eating cop. A lean, cowboy who knows livestock but wouldn't be at home in New York. What makes your characters fascinating?

What are their greatest weaknesses? Or greatest fears? Dig deep, then deeper. What can you you illustrate again and again in the story about this character, that shows gradual change? At the climax action scene--having him or her face this greatest fear/weakness adds depth, and helps show the overwhelming lengths the character is willing to go.

None of us identify with a weak. Whiny, ineffectual hero or heroine. Well, you might say, I want to show growth! But going too far is a high risk move. How many of us have quit reading a book because the characters were way too unsympathetic, or were too stupid to live?!

Even if your hero or heroine are failing at something, they should be sympathetic characters--someone we can identify with and care about. People who are struggling against the odds with courage and intelligence. So consider your characters. Delve deeply into motivations, past sorrows, and personality traits before you ever start your story.

Can these traits change? Absolutely! I love the old movie Romancing the Stone. Did Kathleen Turner remain the same? In the beginning, she only wrote about love and adventure but was afraid to experience them both. In the end, she'd faced adventures beyond her imagination and had become a strong, take-charge woman.

Your hero and heroine aren't the only ones who need to this kind of consideration. Every character is the lead character in his own story, with their own personal goals, conflicts. If you can come up with dynamic, motivated, three dimensional characters who have natural conflict with each other, this will help drive your plot--and makes writing a story a whole lot easier!

No comments: