People read novels with one intent; find out what’s happens to a fascinating set of characters. And if you’re thinking of throwing a bit of romance into the plot to liven up an otherwise dull character, forget about it. It won’t work. The character should be captivating enough on her own. So how do you make characters fascinating without relying on extra props? By adding dimension to the character, that’s how. Here’s a quick run-down.
Spend a Lot of Time on the Character’s History
Muddling into the history of your character gives you a treasure-trove of materials to fuel your story and develop an otherwise ordinary character. In Cinderella, we start out with an average protagonist. But it is her history that makes Cinderella stand out. Her stepmother mistreats her, and it takes the intervention of her fairy godmother to change her life. That story has lasted for generations, and it’s not losing steam.
Cinderella has a bit of history to it, and you can learn a thing or two from the story. First, how does your character’s history impact on his personality? Are there any significant events in your character’s life that shaped him? Play around with where your character was born, where he went to school, his first job, or even his first date. Draw on these experiences and let them shape your character.
More than Just the Basics
While the above backgrounder is an important part of your story, remember, these are just facts. Flatly stating the fact that your character came from a poor neighbourhood but got a scholarship to Yale after which he became a lawyer doesn’t do your story any favours.
Strive to get to the bone of it all. Your character came from a poor neighbourhood. Drug dealers were hovering around every corner. His mother pushed him through school until he got a scholarship from Yale. Before he finished school, his mom got shot in a drug shoot-out. Now the character is a public prosecutor, and his first case is prosecuting a known drug dealer. What attitude does the character have? How can it shape your story?
Make the Readers Relate To Your Character
Drawing from our earlier example, out public prosecutor blames the death of his mom on drug wars. He is keen to put the drug dealer away. Nothing will stand in his way. He uses all his time to prep for his case. He has no time for his girlfriend, and their relationship is on the rocks. All these facts endear the character to the reader and make him want to read more about the character, well before the drug dealer sends his minions to silence the prosecutor.
That's it for today. Is there anything you do to spruce up your characters? Let me know in the comments!