Annie On Writing

October 6, 2008

Characterization

Filed under: Writing Tips — Annie Evett @ 12:01 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Fleshing out a character past the usual two dimensional is often forgotten after the author has become inspired about inserting exciting events , begun exploring themes or gotten carried away with the complexities of the make up of the society, religion or world they are about to write about.

For a story that strikes your readers and engages them, its important to write about real people not merely players wandering aimlessly about your carefully constructed environment and situations. Even if these ‘people’ are purple with tentacles, there are needs to be identifiable characteristics and emotions displayed. An author needs to breath life into them by exploring each characters fears, aspirations and their goals. These may never be written specifically into your story; however an understanding of each persons back story will ensure a more developed and rounded character. Indeed the technique of show and not tell tantalizes your readers with snippets of history and information, dragging them into your story unwittingly.

Themes deepen your story – but its easy for a writer to be come so impassioned about their hobby horse or cause that they force a story into it and upon the characters. This has its own dangers including sappy or two dimensional characterization, cheesy or condescending tones, little subtlety where the reader feels battered by the sermon and many story clichés. Additionally, without a character facing trouble or some sort of conflict, you don’t have a plot. Explore their dreams and their motivations during their scenes in your story, allowing them to react in a natural way to the situations which occur. An engaging story concentrates on the emotional turmoil of characters and presents endless possibilities for conflict. Use liberally sprinkled adjectives to engage your readers through their senses ( describing taste, touch, sight, smell, noise, feeling) – another technique to appeal to different readers.

To avoid story killers; ensure your characters are well rounded and real as they tramp through your text. Remember, your story can have all the detailed action in the world but if your character don’t ring true your story will fail. Characters will carry your theme with them and then will probably run away with it into the hill tops. Develop your characters and set them lose in an environment where their core values, standards and beliefs will conflict with each other. Don’t save your characters from desperation, challenges or struggle; instead allow them to deal with it in their way, naturally and as passionately, as is appropriate for them. Your themes will emerge without you having to force it.

Once you have your characters sorted out – the plot is then just a fancy way of describing how they get out of the challenges and predicaments you have placed in front of them.

Happy characterization!

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