Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Characters Coming Into Being

After looking at the structure of a novel using Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain the pieces have been gathered. The next thing to develop is the characters. Now separating the two isn't usual, at least for me. The plot and structure of the story and the characters usually come together but what I'm looking at here is how to make those characters ones the reader will love or hate, as in the case of the villain.

Mr. Swain talks about five questions a writer should ask when developing a character. The first one is "How does a character come into being?" Are the characters in your story real? In a way yes, and in another way no. Real people have dozens and maybe even hundreds of nooks and crannies. A fictional character is hones so their nooks and crannies are just a few. Making the character too complicated can be confusing. What needs to be done is to select a few traits to develop and give the fictional person life within boundaries. What the character needs is just enough stuff to fit into the development of the story.

Characters develop gradually and they change and in changing the story may change or deepen. A fellow writer told me on her current WIP suddenly she learned things about her hero that didn't change him exactly but added to his reasons for acting the way he has chosen to act. This bit of information brought more life to a character who started out as hero and then the layers build. So all the parts of the character begin to coalesce and to the writer, the character becomes a person facing a particular situation with particular actions, reactions and motivations. Thus the fictional character becomes real to the writer. The more real to the writer, the more real to the reader.

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