Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Secrets of Creating Characters in Written Fiction (Part 1)


How do you create memorable and distinct characters? That’s the primary question that all fiction writers face. There’s no writer out there who hasn’t gone off the rails with character creation, developing a personality that utterly fails on all counts and whose flavor lies somewhere between cardboard and chalk.

The good news is that character creation doesn’t require genius. Any writer, using just a few techniques, can give brilliant life to any character. The only real decisions needed for creating  characters are which techniques to choose and what purpose the character plays in your story.

In the weeks that follow I will give advice, all of it my personal opinion. No part of that should override your good judgement in designing your scenes, your tones, and your tensions. What I give you here are tools. By my definition, a tool is something that can help you just as easily as it can hurt you. The devices that I discuss here will work both for and against you. It may take some mistakes, but you will figure out how to use them.

Fortunately you can go nuts writing characters if you want to. Nobody is going to get hurt. At worst, you risk writing an unsellable piece of garbage. At best, you have a breakthrough and your writing leaps up a few levels. In my opinion, garbage is necessary for brilliance. Garbage in the pursuit of excellence is called learning.