Today, I felt like talking about something that is a major part of the writing world.
Without them, your plot as no where to go, and your setting has no one to harbor. Characters are the beloved parts of your soul you have released into a world of fictional reality. For my novel, I have exactly nine main characters, two of which. . . Well, I’ll leave that for the actual novel. Names shall be withheld for right now, as development is still heavily in progress – after all, one does not finish developing until their book is fully published.
My nine characters are the ones that make up the story. They are my hero’s, they are my villains, and most of all, they are my babies. When I created them, they weren’t, literally speaking, actual babies, but they were bright eyed and bushy tailed. They were open to a world of wonder, ready for the adventure I had picked out for them. Well, of course they still are, but their journey is less than appetizing, and far more adventurous than they had thought to begin with.
They’ve cried, screamed, wondered, felt, tasted, seen – all inclusion of the five senses. They are powerful, yet some are reserved. They are curious, yet dysfunctional. They are determined, but lack a certain want. This is who they are, and I give them all of this, because it’s who they’re meant to be. Now, truth be told, all of my characters have delved off the path I’ve given them. They’ve become their own person, and I am proud of them for that. They were once my puppets (lightly speaking of course), but slowly, out of the corner of my eye, I can see them becoming real people. (Cue Pinocchio’s theme.)
When I write my characters. I don’t just want them to be another fictional being within the confines of leafy pages. I want them to be real, I want them to be in the room, fighting their battles, talking over strategies, yelling at the obscenities that life shows them. I want them to be heard on a personal level, not just in someones brain, but through their ears. I want their hard work to be felt, their burdens to weigh, I want them to be completely, utterly, extraordinarily, real, to their readers.
When their hearts are strung across a wire and their tears bottled up, I want it to be felt. When knives slice their skin, I want it to be felt. When blood spills from lip wounds, I want it to be tasted. In pure essence, I want everything about my characters to be infallibly real. I love my characters, and see them as another human being, after all, they are a part of my soul. I don’t want them to be crushed, knowing they are a part of something bigger, only to then be seen as something as small as words on paper.
When it comes to my villains – and oh my, do I love my villains – I want them to be as real as the person sitting next to you. Yes, yes, I’ve repeated myself many of times now, but that’s not what I mean. What I mean, is I want my villains to be seen as a person, and not a monster created to fight my hero and lose. No, no, no! My villain is a child, destroyed over life, fearful of what is next, and willing to do what it takes to protect him and his kind. He is a strong headed character, who believes what he is doing is absolutely the only way to win the war. . . What war? The one he see’s being fought, the one he feels inside and portrays to the outer world.
I have side villains, and of course, I have my main side villain, who is quite good at taking the page. He doesn’t try to, but he’s just too good to leave out. I created him as a henchman, but as I began to write him, I thought, no, he’s too much to just stand on the sidelines.
He can’t be another cliche.
So he’s not. He’s got his own goals, orientations, beliefs. He’s never lived in societal peace, but he was never without his own. He fights for those he calls family, and when someone stands in the way of their safety or freedom, he’ll move heaven and hell to make sure they’re safe. He’s a brute, strong, but he’s also extremely smart, having his IQ up there in the ranges of Thomas Edison and pretty close to Albert Einstein. He’s a hard worker, with firm beliefs, and a strong stubborn sense of personality. He’s the one who can stand up to the villain and make him cringe. He’s the one who scared the hero more than the actual villain in brutality, but doesn’t have as strong sense of misdirected beliefs as the main baddie – at least not enough to own the stage.
Can you see how much I love my villains?
Onward with the hero’s, whom I absolutely love just as much, but can’t play with backgrounds as easily. My main hero is strong, but she’s lost, losing people she’s cared dearly for – but was slightly estranged to. She learned a lot about her history, and there’s a bit too much she didn’t know. She’s a hard head, who scared about what the world wield for her. She’s the one people look at oddly, but also too because she has something they don’t. She’s the random kid who stands on the doorstep of a strangers house in the middle of the night during a rainstorm, with soppy hair and a torn personality – (That’s not the plot, nor is that any scene actually in my book like that. Simply an analogy).
Then there’s my side hero’s. I love them all, especially the unmistakable ‘love’ interest. Not played out as one would think, but still obviously there. He’s strong, different, playful, but extremely over protective because of issues from the past. His personality, isn’t because of the main character, but because of events that have shaped him from his past. He’s the boy who tries far too hard to help everyone else survive, that he sinks under his own weaknesses.
I have so many other characters I’ve/have yet to develop. It’s true though, that without good characters, no matter how good your plot is, your book will fall through. Characters are the key to story development, after all, they are the ones going on the journey, your plot and settings are simply the basics to help them along.
Of all the things of writing, I do have to say that character building is my top favorite thing to do. Characters are the ones who build the journey, and make it absolutely real to those reading it. No eyes should ever scan a book page by page – eyes should be watching scenes, moment by moment – and the characters are the ones who create those scenes, who make the reality real, who promise you an adventure, and give you exactly that.
Although, I do have to tell the truth. I could have never began to develop my characters without a sheet I had found online. (The link will be below, with all appropriate citation.)
A little trick I did when filling out the character sheet – since I printed it – was with each character, I used a different colored sharpie. Now, that seems odd, but I used it to define what my favorite characters color is. I have a belief that a persons favorite color can be linked to their personality. No, I don’t believe in superstition, but look at someones favorite color, and then look at their personality. Most teenagers favorite color is black, why, because it conceals everything. My favorite color is royal purple, because it’s rich, and vibrant, and it can harbor many hidden flecks of dust. Green for a friend of mine, she’s exciting, straight to the point, and always has a purpose, unless she’s feeling spontaneous. I could go on and on – and no, colors are not a like it, this is how you are thing. . . I guess what I’m trying to say, is, sometimes our favorite colors have been chosen by how our lives have been. It sound very odd, I know, but each thing in our lives has meaning, and that shouldn’t ever go without notice.
Lerner, K., & Walker, T. (2004). Character Chart for Fiction Writers – EpiGuide.com. Retrieved September 14, 2016, from http://www.epiguide.com/ep101/writing/charchart.html