Creating characters – part 10

by juliusmsanz

Have been very busy these past couple of days and tomorrow won’t be able to post as I’ll be cooking for 40 people. That being said let’s continue to speak a little bit about characters and how close they are to the human being.

I wrote about this before, but a character isn’t all black or white. Those days are long gone, and what makes a character shine is how many shades of grey he/she has. Let me give you a small example to put things into perspective:

You know this person who smiles a lot and talks with others and relates really well. That shows that the character is an extrovert. But what if this is just a mask? A mask to conceal insecurities and the character acts in a completely different fashion when alone or with people very close to him/her? I’ve recently began to think about enneagrams. Enneagrams are a type of personality test that anybody can take to judge his/her personality. It’s rather difficult to read other people. You can’t tell what others are thinking or feeling, sometimes it even takes me a while to fully understand my thoughts and feelings. And this is where we, the writers, have a complete advantage. We know what the characters are feeling, we know why they are feeling that way, and we know how they will respond next.

This series of posts inspires a lot of control, the way I keep on writing it makes me sound like we must have all the answers. That is not completely true.

I believe that in order to write a completely spectacular character we must know as much as we can and keep both our feet on the ground. I say this because of two things: firstly I say this because while we know the direction the story is going to take, you can never take anything for granted. If your story ends up being crap and you feel like rewriting it at least a couple of times, at least you have solid foundations with your characters. If your character profiles are good, you can use them anytime. Secondly I am well aware that sometimes we end up creating a Mary Sue because we do not follow that character profile. Once I was writing a female character beating up three to four guys. While not completely impossible, it would be very unlikely for her to win without any blows being dealt. I had to look at the scene and, despite really liking the character, change it completely. You can sum this up by saying: better safe than sorry.

Characters need to have some sort of character, they need to be people we could meet on the street. They can be as complex as me or you, and believe me, I know that we, human beings, are very complex.

And I’m not going the direction I wanted, damn.

Characters can help a mediocre story, and it’s not a very complex process, you just have to do a lot of research and not delude yourself.

I will continue to talk about personalities and characters the day after tomorrow, after all I still have plenty to say, but sorry for this mindless post today.

Have a nice day!