When you write fiction, your story hinges on the characters you create. So for me today, C is for Characters. You could have a splendid plot and storyline but they fall flat if they are not carried off by your characters. To me much of the pleasure of writing a novel comes from creating and developing characters. They are at first vague ideas in your mind. Man or woman, young or old, they assume shape in your mind as you think more about the story. It’s amazing how attached you get to your characters. By the time you are through with your novel it feels as if you know them personally. You know every intimate detail about them. And it’s natural to do so, because you were the one who created them.
In my experience, you create characters roughly based on people you know, have seen, read about, or imagined. For example, Col. Belliappa in my debut novel, “It Can’t Be You” was the amalgam of several people I knew personally. Major Mohini Nair, the heroine of my second novel, “Lucky For Some, 13” was not based on anyone I knew but was totally a figment of my imagination.
There are many ways of developing a character. For example, you could use a format which lays down every detail of the character ranging from her personal and physical characteristics to her mental make up. This method is useful though I must confess I haven’t it to a great extent myself. You could also portray a character based on someone you have read about but not actually known.
As a writer you of course know there are different types of characters in a novel, such as the protagonist and the antagonist, there are flat characters and round characters, dynamic characters and static characters. Ginny Wiehardt in Fiction Writing in About.com. has this educative post.
Harvey Chapman has some interesting and useful articles on developing characters for your novel in his website Novel Writing Help.
As you can see, what we learn from others can at best give you ideas and tips. At the end, you need to sit down and create those characters yourself. The character can raise the level of your story or allow it to plummet. It’s worth spending time thinking about characters development more seriously when you set out to write that novel. You will have to paint a candid picture of the person, warts and all.
One of my readers told me, “I felt I knew the character personally by the time I finished with your book.” This pleased me no end. I was delighted that I had made that character live and breathe like a real person would.
17 thoughts on “C for Characters #A to Z Challenge”
I’m a character-driven reader more than a plot-driven reader, so well-developed characters are vital to my enjoyment of a book.
Hope you’ll visit me today at http://www.thebusymomsdaily.com/2014/04/blogging-from-to-z-april-challenge-c.html
Sure will, Busy Mom:) Thanks for making time to see the post.
great description of how characters are formed – round, flat, dynamic, static, and even though the backgrounds aren’t known for all of them by the reader, the author knows them intimately.
happy c day!
Thanks, Tara. I believe the best development of characters comes from instinct rather than staying with a prescribed plan.
It takes me a bunch of revision passes to really develop a character. Sometimes more research too, as I might have an idea to give one something special (hobby quirk, idiom disorder), but need more info. You’re right – unless there are great characters, the novel can’t succeed.
(followed you on WP, and “liked” you on FB)
Lexa Cain’s Blog
Thank you so much, Laura.
Stopping by to say hi as I make my A-to-Z Challenge tour today. Being an avid reader myself, I appreciate it when characters are well developed. Sad to say that I have read a couple books where I didn’t believe the character– therefore, it was hard to get behind the rest of the book’s elements.
Mary @ The View from my W0rld
Thanks for dropping by, Mary. I can relate to what you say. I recall a book by a very “big name” writer where I found the protagonist to be too good to be true. I was surprised that such a famous author could make the mistake of developing a Superman kind of hero. For me this resulted in a big dip in the story’s credibility.
Characters within a story are all important if the plot is driven by their action. Those are the stories I like the most and that bring me back to read future novels.
Gail visiting for AtoZ
Thank you, Gail. Characters do make the story:)
Memorable characters are definitely a must for a story to draw me in. Even when the plot begins to lag in some novels, I continue to read on because I can root for the characters I care about.
Thanks for dropping by and your comment.
I identify with characters more. I pick one and become that person until the last page and sometimes even beyond that.
Yes, I can see that. I remember the characters of my books long after I have moved into another project.
That must be one of the best posts I have read on characterisation! You inspire me, Prem 🙂 I am seriously considering a work of fiction in the near future, by the way 🙂
Introspection in Shades of 11
A to Z Challenge, 2014/ UBC, April 2014
Thanks, ShyVish. You really ought to have a shot at fiction. Experiment, and let your imagination take over.