Creating Characters in More Detail
March 6, 2023 | The Hollow Man Series, International Espionage
I’m sure every writer has heard that characters in your novels should all be unique and original, unforgettable, somewhat flawed but evocative, consistent to their established personalities, use solid motivations to drive their actions, and grow as the plot unfolds. But what exactly does that mean and how in hell does an author do that? I wanted to give you all a few of the tips that I find useful in creating my characters.
First and foremost, an author has to believe that characters are at least as important as plot and setting in creating a novel. In some cases, characters are more important, for example in character driven platforms. Think of the characters we all consider the most memorable; Atticus Finch, Scarlett O’Hara, Huckleberry Finn, Jay Gatsby, and Severus Snape to name a few. They are active participants in the plot rather than passive bystanders. They make things happen.
Great characters are complex: Give them depth: One-dimensional characters tell the reader the storyline is most important, therefore readers relegate characters to a minor role in supporting the plot. Multi-dimensional characters have flaws and strengths that make them interesting and relatable. Characters have backstories, quirks, and individual traits that make them stand out in any story. Think about what drives them, their fears, their hopes and what they are willing to do to achieve their goals.
Sensory details help create a more vivid picture of your character. Use details, including how they move and speak, their sense of humor, and interact with others to add to your character’s depth: Don’t just rely on physical descriptions to bring your character to life. This is one of those times when you want to show your characters, not simply tell the reader about them. Show each character through their actions, dialogue, and interactions with others. This can help readers to connect with your character on a deeper level.
Develop your character’s relationships: Their relationships with other characters can be a powerful tool for character development. Think about how your character interacts with others and make their relationships reveal something about their personality and motivations. This is a good point to mention that your character may have relationships with symbolic characters, such as the setting, weather, various cultures, and so on. Think about Jack London’s To Build a Fire for inspiration there. These can be powerful and thought-provoking characters all by themselves.
In closing, let me remind writers that every story has a voice. It is the narrator’s creation in third-person narration and the protagonist’s rendition in the first-person. Characters also have individual voices that set them apart from other characters. Consider their dialect, vocabulary, and speaking style, and use it to create a distinctive voice for each character. These voices should be singularly different from all others and will contribute to the overall voice of the work.