Monday, May 22, 2017

Know The Characters You Create

4 people, 4 different characters

 Last night, I was watching the season finale of one of my favorite tv shows. Call The Midwives is a British production shown on PBS. At the end, I cried a little with sheer joy and love for the people in the show whom I've come to know so well. 

It occurred to me that every character stands out because each one has been carefully developed by the writer. Ah yes, we come back to that well-known (to us) entity--the writer. 

It goes without saying that the main characters in a story--long or short--must be drawn fully and with care. The show I watched last evening has many characters and, as the series progresses, viewers have gotten to know a good number of them to the point that we feel what they are feeling because we understand who they are, their motives for their actions, their joys and sorrows, their goals and more. Thanks again to the writer(s). 

I think that one of the reasons that the series is successful is that secondary characters are also well-developed. They are not just those 'walk across the stage and smile' extras. 

Creating a character who readers (or viewers) will remember takes time and some skill that comes with doing it over and over again. An author of multiple books doesn't have to spend as much time as the one who is writing a first novel. And guess what? There is plenty of help. Our old friend, google, will find many how-to articles on character development. 

One site I checked on has a chart to be filled out for each character. It's lengthy but thorough. If you can write something about your character on every line in the chart, you will know him/her quite well by the time you reach the end. Check it here

Many writers will tell you that they come to know their characters so well that the story almost writes itself because the characters direct the story. I've had that happen in one of my longer projects, so I know it is no figment of imagination. 

Take some time to get to know the characters you create and your readers will thank you. 

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