Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Creating Characters We Like

Creating characters can be tough. Not only do we have to give them a plot to work through, we have to also give them the depth of emotions and conflict to create that plot. Add in the three-dimensional qualities and you have a real mess on your hands. Unfortunately, you have an added dimension to consider - the reader. Your readers have to like your characters, and on some level, that includes the bad guys.

Let me first remind you of something. Writing and literature is part of the field of studies known as The Humanities. As the word states, this is a field that explores and examines human qualities and so forth. For those characters to have life, they need the interaction with the reader. It is through the reading of the story that your characters have their living qualities. Obviously, if no one reads your book, the characters are dead, or at least in a coma like state until someone does open those pages.

But the other element to the interaction with the reader is how they can interact with the characters. If you have a joyous moment in the story, you want your reader to feel that same feeling of excitement and happiness. If your characters are sad, the reader should feel it too. That can only happen if the reader has built a connection and a bond with the characters.

All too often, however, readers have created a characters that we simply cannot like, and this can be especially devastating if it is the protagonist. This often happens when authors create characters that have issues in the beginning and they want to solve those problems later in the book. In simple terms, we cannot feel sorry for the characters if they created their own situation and now want sympathy and help for it. The readers have no problem providing sympathy to the characters, but when they are begging for a "pity party" we just can't go there with them.

I have talked here about creating characters that are real. This is that same situation here. We want to create characters we would like to be around. We want characters who we would want to help solve their problems.

If you create a romance where the heroine has had her marriage fall apart due to the husband cheating on her, we can work with that. If, however, we see that she was doing the same thing, then we cannot now feel sorry for her. Why is her situation somehow fine when it wasn't right for someone else? Maybe the husband started cheating on her because she created a family life that steered him in the direction of the other woman. If that is the situation, then we cannot feel sorry for her when she complains he has run off. Of course, that doesn't make him any better either, but I think you can see where I am going to with it.

Even the bad guys need to have something inside of them for us to see it was an unfortunate circumstance for them to be in. If you consider, Malfoy from Harry Potter, this kid is just mean, but we can learn to see that maybe, just maybe he can be saved. We can see his issues have stemmed from being in the Malfoy family and under the watchful eye of "He who shall not be named." These are not problems he did to himself,

As you create your characters, continue to ask yourself if these people are people you or your reader would really want to hang out with. Are these characters people worth saving? Or, are these people deserving of everything they have coming to them. Remember, you want us cheering for your protagonist and wanting to do all we can to get them through their problems. This is what keeps us turning the pages.

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