Depth of Character

20160124_124122Have ever just stopped and thought about snowflakes? It’s an incred­i­ble thing. Togeth­er they are a mass of white fluff but indi­vid­u­al­ly they are unique and indi­vid­u­al. Not one is alike.

That’s like peo­ple. If you look at a crowd at a sport­ing event it looks like a throng of mov­ing, breath­ing bod­ies. I went to a con­cert once where there were so many bod­ies pressed togeth­er I was moved along like I was caught up on a con­vey­or belt of human flesh. For a few moments I was actu­al­ly wor­ried that I had been swal­lowed by a mon­ster and may not ever breath freely again. Thank­ful­ly, the mon­ster spit me out and I indeed took a breath of air!

And yet, that throng of peo­ple was made up of a whole lot of indi­vid­u­al and unique peo­ple. That is one of the chal­lenges of writ­ing good fic­tion. Cre­at­ing dis­tinc­tive and orig­i­nal char­ac­ters that read­ers want to root for; char­ac­ters that have dis­tinct per­son­al­i­ties, dreams and goals that are relate able.  After all, who wants to read a sto­ry with flat, unbe­liev­able char­ac­ters?

To cre­ate char­ac­ters that have a life of their own is def­i­nite­ly an art. You don’t want your char­ac­ters to become lost in a wave of fic­tion fluff. Read­ers relate with mul­ti dimen­sion­al char­ac­ters because that is how we are!

I have much to learn in this area but I’ll share two things I’ve picked up along the way.

Things to think about:

First: A good char­ac­ter is not just “Good” or “Bad.”  We all have many fine qual­i­ties but we also have weak­ness­es. If you write a char­ac­ter that is all good and nev­er show their weak­ness­es or faults then you will have a one dimen­sion­al per­son. No one can relate to a one dimen­sion­al per­son.

Even the bad guy in the sto­ry has some good in him. That is what makes him relate able and lik­able. Find the good, even in your bad guy!

Sec­ond: Spend some time devel­op­ing the back­sto­ry. Why does your char­ac­ter do and say what he or she does? If you don’t know the back­sto­ry then you will end up with a shal­low char­ac­ter. It doesn’t have to be a huge back­sto­ry and you don’t even have to tell the read­er the back­sto­ry. It might just be for the writer’s ben­e­fit.

So for those of you that are test­ing out this area of writ­ing, think about your char­ac­ters and be sure to give them some depth. Your sto­ry will be bet­ter and your read­ers will con­nect with the sto­ry bet­ter.

Hap­py writ­ing!

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