Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Secrets of Creating Characters in Written Fiction (Part 15)

Their Own Worldview

So, what exactly does your character want? What is your character for and against? What’s on their to-do list for today? What catches their eye?

Characters have their own world view. They gather information valuable to them and act on that information. Based on the quality of that information, they make choices. In most situations, that information will be either inaccurate or incomplete, and the character is still stuck with making a choice and living with it. Not only do the have a choice, but their rationale for the given choice tells us a great deal about the character.

  • Jack decided to slay the local giant because that sounded heroic.
  • Jack decided to slay the local giant to impress his mother.
  • Jack decided to slay the local giant because a talking chicken told him to.

In many ways, “because” is far more important that the objective. It’s the “because” that is interesting, not the goal. Because includes the worldview of the character. By having their own points of view, your characters will naturally differentiate in their decision making. Any change in your character’s point of view should result in matching change to their actions and styles.

It’s this very worldview which gives a character a life beyond the page. This is the part of a character that wants to do something that you never thought. These worldviews fight with your preconceived notions of the character, because if you follow their logic, you wind up somewhere different than you thought about going because you, as an author, don’t have time to think of all the implications behind your characters when you create them. Over time, as you think about their point of view, your character’s internal logic will point to something that you had not considered before, but which would be perfectly valid for the character.

How do you make this worldview? The simplest way is to just know what the character considers important. Warp all other decisions about those items of importance. Someone who loves spending money and living the high life will react very different from someone who wants to accumulate money. Once I say it, all those differences and implications become immediately obvious. Both people may both want to get money with the same degree of passion, but their worldview determines how they act on that passion. Different risks and different rewards yield different decision chains.