A well-written story is usually about a person who, for the period of time the story lasts, is worth writing about. He/she is real, interesting and engages the reader.
In the search for interesting characters, the beginning writer must beware of two weaknesses = copying a character directly from life instead of selecting the characteristics that make him seem real and believable; and using stock, stereotyped characters.You can base them on people you have known, but when they appear on paper, they should be a composite of several … select qualities and traits and add to them the characteristics or physical attributes of another.
Stay away from the mousy librarian, the absent-minded professor and the prostitue with the heart of gold. Avoid stock characters by not thinking about people as stereotypes. Your character also has invisible attributes – memories, ideas, feelings, emotions and virtues. Try to be consistent – a character can change of course, but the change must be motivated. No-one exists in a vacuum – remember the envirtonment. Somthing can take place in August that would never have happened in December. We are all affected by the seasons in some way – how we dress, our leisure activities, if it’s holiday time etc.
The character’s words and actions explain his behaviour better than a long explanation. Dialogue is very important, so train yourself to listen ; and dialogue between two characters can also introduce and interpret the personality of a third person you may want to introduce.
Another way of projecting character is by simple narration, showing what someone did and how he did it; how he drives on a freeway; the way he eats his breakfast; how he walks his dog; his behaviour when he’s drunk too much; how he plays with his children; his actions when he is with his wife etc. Also add color by describing what he wears, what he values. You will need to know a lot more about your characher than you are going to write down … the more you understand his background, family, education, experiences before he comes into the story, the more realistic he will emerge. Happy writing.
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