five parts of any character
I think characters are one of the key parts of any story. One of the largest problems I think that new writers face is having good, solid, 3D characters. As such, here are some recommendations that might help anyone move in that direction.
Keep in mind however that this isn’t just for the hero of the story. This list applies just as much to the villain as the hero, if not more so, because villains are harder to understand. It’s easy to understand why someone would want to save the world from being taken over but a lot harder to convince the reader why the world is being taken over in the first place.
1. Appearance. This is more of a technicality than a mandate, but having a good clue about what your character looks like will save you a lot of headache in the end, when you start editing and find that on page one, she has brown eyes, page five blue/green eyes, page seven brown eyes again and then on page fifteen she has the gray, stormy eyes that melt the heart of her boyfriend or whatever.
2. Interests. In general, what does he/she like? This can play into what they do what they do but sometimes it might just be an aspect of what they miss now that his/her life has been ruined by the author. Everyone likes doing something, even if it is just checking facebook and playing farmville.
3. love. I know, you’re not writing a love story. and since I myself have sworn off love stories this seems an ironic one to include. However, I’m not just talking about boyfriend/girlfriend kind of love. I’m talking about maybe the relationship that the said character has with his/her parents. Or maybe it’s a sibling. This can be a powerful motivator both to do things and to not do things. But having a brother that you haven’t heard about until page 90 being kidnapped and the hero decides, “Oh, you know, I think I’ll turn myself into the bad guy just because he’s such a great brother,” seems a lot weaker than a brother exchange when the kidnapped brother has been a support, someone who’s been sending him money, and someone who hid him from the police on page 30. Know who your character cares about and, if needed, why (or why not.).
4. Motivation. Take note: this is a big one for the villain. However, almost everyone has motivation to do something. Thing about yourself. Why do you go to work in the morning? Having a character that gets swept along willy-nilly seems weak and like they are pathetic. Now, maybe that is an attribute you want in a character because you’ll eventually work it out of him/her, but be on guard for it. Know why your character does what they do.
5. Weakness. What can’t they do? Not everyone, or very few people at least, are perfect in everything they do. And what I am discovering very quickly is that everything takes lots and lots of practice. It’s very easy to create perfect characters that don’t ever have a problem but everyone has a problem. Everyone either gets annoyed, frustrated, angry or weak-kneed. Try to have a clue about what that is before writing, so you don’t have to edit it back in later.
many things she ought to understand
I posted last about how I could not figure out how of my characters and how do you add depth to a scene. There was a comment (I don’t know if you want me to use your name.) about how you should add details like–like she squinted out the window and pursed her lips in thought before answering. This is actually something used by authors, if you happen to notice it. Oftentimes it helps to let the reader know who is speaking without having a bunch of “Bob said”s.
However, as I was about to answer her post, I realized what my problem was. My problem is pretty much that I don’t know my character. I honestly don’t understand Natlie.
So I did the most obvious thing to myself; I interviewed her. It went rather like this.
Me: So, Natlie, tell me some about yourself?
My head as Natlie: Well, I like being outside and I like visiting people. I’m so glad that we don’t live in those far away farms where they hardly get to see anyone for ages. Well, months at least, but that’s basically ages.
Me: How is your relationship with your brother?
Well, we get along fine enough I suppose. It’s only the two of us. HE does all the work on the farm and I help him with some of the chores but not a whole lot. But we’ve survived well enough together. However, he hates that I go to town so much. I’m not sure why.
Me: Does he not like you being an archer?
Natlie: Oh, no! He understands that perfectly. I just think he doesn’t like being around people as much as I do. He’s always been really supportive of me doing it, even though it isn’t that ladylike. He didn’t mind buying this bow for me at all. I think it’s because he figures that so long as I have a bow, I’m pretty much safe from the dragons.
Me: So, if it’s just you and your brother, how did your parents die?
Natlie: It… it was because of the dragons. They–my family–was herding the animals towards the cave that we hide it when they come. It had been a dry year and we had a strong south wind. The grass just caught as soon as the dragon blew fire and–poof!–no more.
Me: Where were you when this happened?
Natlie: OH, I ran away. Not literally mind you. My mother wanted me to kneed dough and I wanted to make flower crowns. So I told her I had to go out back and ran as soon as she gave me the chance. I was only ten then but I never really liked housechores. I just do them because I must now.
ME: So how did Colton survive?
Natlie: He was in the very front of the herd and managed to run fast enough. When I heard the dragon call, I ran towards the cave too. And Colton… I thought it was my fault at first–that they went out and tried to find me. But it was just us.
So, that’s pretty much what I did. I guess it seems silly but it gave me a lot of good ideas. I think I now need to add two more scenes. One scene at the end of the story before the climax so that way people can see Colton’s and Natlie’s relationship and one scene where they see the dragons’ Crossbows burned, bot to make it seem real and unreal at the same time.
Which reminds me. I am highly suspecting that the characters are going to think that this can’t really be happening but I’m not sure how to quite write that so it doesn’t seem like the character doesn’t have any emotions either. It’s a weird thing to write, but something that happens a lot to myself as well.