Setting and plot are vital in narrative construction but they are worth very little without a good character, or characters to hold it all together. Last week I asked you to consider and flesh out your characters as much as possible. This week, I’m just going to go over some very basic tips on character design and development.
When creating a cast of characters you need to consider as much background detail as possible, the more you know about a characters backstory the more it will impact on the story you are telling. If your character had a blind family member, for example, they are probably going to be more understanding of physical disability. Having a strong backstory is the main rule with character creation but here are a few others:
- Try to avoid stereotypes: This can be as simple as avoiding making a homosexual character too camp or black character too sassy but it can also be more nuanced. As much as possible, try to steer clear of well-known archetypes, or at least try to find ways your characters break the mould of their archetype.
- Mary-Sues: You have probably come across this term before but in case you haven’t, a Mary-sue is a character, normally a protagonist, which every other character loves and respects. They are brilliant at everything and never seem to fail. This is not engaging to read and it’s the main reason why many readers super heroes hard to read.
- Avoid one-dimensional background characters: Background characters can, and should, have backstories of their own. If you have an Inn Keeper in your story maybe try to consider how he feels about being an inn keeper, if he hates it this could change his dialogue completely compared to if he loves it.
- Don’t use your friends as characters: I am sure your friends are brilliant to you but the majority of people we all know would come across as boring and weak in the context of a narrative. You will find yourself recreating inside jokes and mannerisms that your reader simply will not get. Instead, use your friends as the base for a character and then change them in interesting ways to make them fit into your narrative better.
- Avoid Vampires, Werewolves and Superheroes: They are played out at the moment unless you are convinced that your story has a brand new take on them just leave those narratives to the established genre writers.
- Try to create characters that will stand the test of time: If one of characters is just making references to pop culture they’re not going to relevant in ten years, or even by the time your idea hits shelves in some cases. Before you comment, I accept that Deadpool is guilty of this but he is more the exception that proves the rule.
These are the biggest pit falls to avoid when creating strong characters, past this it’s very much down to you and common sense. For next week, we are going to talk about setting to just make some general notes about the settings involved in your piece.
…That was this week’s Grr(aphic) Mondays!!! Check back on Wednesday for a new BearSleuth Opinion piece!!!