Creating characters – Part 7

by juliusmsanz

First of all I want to thank winterbayne.

She has been saying some good things about me and showcasing my stuff on her blog and I just want to say that I appreciate it.

And now for what will be the final part of Creating Characters, at least for the time being, I’m going to talk about several different things that you can use to tie up with your stories.

Characters begin with personality. Your character’s personality must be extremely well-defined, not just because he or she is the protagonist, but because you have to be able to get some decent mileage out of that one character and knowing him or her will allow you to do that. This is especially important if you are writing something along the lines of a psychological thriller. If you don’t know how your character is going to react to certain events then you just haven’t been doing your homework properly.

Writing is often credited with inspiration, but it’s the ground work, the basics, that will get you going 99% of the time. You can be in a slump, you can be short on time, a million different things can be a thorn in your path, but if you are prepared then this is going to happen: you won’t face those types of adversities very often and when you do, you know exactly what to do to surpass them.

Next up is this: you have to know the background of your character.

I’ve been writing about this as I go along, but I forgot to mention a couple of important things. Where does the character come from? And what is he made of already? If you aren’t writing about the progression of the character from when he was a baby untill his later years in life, chances are you are going to need something. How was the childhood like? No clichés please. What kind of parents does the character have? Was he gifted at school?

Obviously you aren’t going to write about all of this, but it helps to know.

And now comes the part that is important: what did he do that shows in the story? Allow me to explain. You can’t have an elderly old woman beat seven guys just like that. Readers won’t buy that sort of stuff. Instead you can use that opportunity to say how she trained some martial art for the past twenty years after retiring. It’s a little bit more plausible and shows more about that elderly woman. How did the business man know what to do in the wilderness? Maybe he learned a lot from his uncle that lived in the mountains and taught him plenty of things in his summer vacations. These are obviously crude examples and needed a lot more questions asked and answered, but I hope you got the picture.

Characters need to be challenged all the time, they need to question their own actions and fail in order to succeed. He needs to be embarrassed too and needs to change by the end of the story. Nobody stays the same all the time. We all evolve in our own different ways and modify our impressions, thoughts and the way we view the world. If your character stays the same, if he hasn’t learned anything new or improved himself, if he didn’t overcome anything, then your character can be good, but he will never be great.

And that’s it my friends! Writing this series was fun and I hope that what I’ve been writing has made you think about characters a little bit differently.

Have a nice day, see you all tomorrow!