Annie On Writing

July 12, 2008

Creating Characters beyond the Two Dimensional.

Filed under: Writing Tips — Annie Evett @ 11:02 pm
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The key to a believable piece of fiction – be it a short story – or a novel – is the believability and depth of the characters. Even on purple planets where the two headed, eight armed alien who can also teleport and zap others with a magic wand, can be believed if they display emotions and fears that your audience can empathize and identify with. By building your characters from within, will ensure you have a great understanding of their motivations and their truths and allow you as the scribe to tell the story with honesty.

Every character has a primary question – a phrase and a belief that runs in an uninterrupted pattern through their mind; especially under stress. Questions like “What will people/ my father/mother think of me?” or “ Why does this always happen to me?”, give a deep indication of a characters values and what is important to them. Identify that question and you will open Pandora’s box of fears and aspirations for that character. It will give reason for that characters reaction to an event and allow the audience to build empathy or an understanding giving way to belief in the situation.

Buddah was reported to have said, “ Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think.” By getting into your characters head, understanding how they see the world and their expectations of what the world will serve them, will gift you more prompts and background stories than you will be able to write. Allow your character to sit within the environment your story is set and allow them to explore and react to what is in place. The way your character thinks will shape what their life expectations and experiences.

Its easy (and lazy) to bestowe an character with clichés – unless that is the style of the piece of work you are endeavoring to write. A character who is ‘evil’ may not necessarily see themselves as such and it depends on whos vantage point you are viewing the action or event from. They may be a on a mission from their deity or have a different belief structure and world view than the others around them or have been forced out of love, anger or fear to perform that ‘evil’ act you are writing about. There many layers and are always more than two sides of a story. Build your characters from a feeling or emotion and a question. Construct the framework around them to allow your characters to flex their newly formed muscles and they will reveal to you their secrets and desires.

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