Joe’s Post #167 — Trying to get re-inspired to write has been a bit of a challenge.
I’ve been thinking a lot, which is something I do instead of writing, and this time, my thoughts have turned to character.
I want to make my characters real. Alive. Compelling. Full of good and bad.
I got hammered on a few short stories for lack of character depth. Oh, how much easier it would be to have a written story with theme music and linked sites to show the character’s backstory and they challenges they faced.
But, sadly, I’m not a director. Nor a movie maker. I’m a fiction writer and I need to find a way to bring my characters to life better.
So I looked at the novel I’m reading. No help there. It’s Baldacci and while he’s a best-selling writer and a darned good writer of thrillers, his characters are, at best, shallow and under developed.
Then I watched Babakook with my 13 year old. Apart from being terrified, a light bulb went off. This movie shows people in their worst state. It ripped open their ugly inner selves for the world to see.
And that got me thinking.
Is that what makes a good character?
Yet, she loves her children unconditionally. No matter what kind of monsters they are.
She has a code. Protect the ones she loves at all costs.
Even if she ignores all the bad stuff. Like, ah, tossing other people’s children from towers.
Doesn’t that make her more compelling?
So how do I make mine compelling?
Make them less…. Good?
So, I grabbed a glass of wine, sat in my favourite chair and began to challenge my character’s goodness. When my main character is drowning in a WW1 shell hole what if there is someone in there with him? Someone drowning too. Make him not alone. Make it not a lonely struggle.
Good. Hmmm. I’m liking this.
Now, he’s the type of guy who would save the other man. He’s the hero type. But what if instead of saving the other man, in his panic, in his fear of drowning, he steps on top of the other man to free himself? He’s 16. He’s shell-shocked. He’s living out his worst fear…
What if it became his darkest secret?
What if that moment in the shell hole haunts him forever? Defines him?
Hmmmm. I’m getting closer to making him a more compelling character, right?
Still more to do, but oddly enough, I’m more inspired to write about this guy, and that’s never a bad thing.
So now I need to look at the other characters. Maybe find some good in the villain?
Is this how good characters are made? Or are there any other suggestions?