Posted by Adam | Posted in Character Development, Discussion & Debate | Posted on 19-05-2013
Creating characters is often one of the most fun parts of novel writing – but it can also be one of the most challenging.
We need to get the balance right with our characters. They need to be believable without being boring, and shouldn’t be too perfect. They should have flaws, like all people do, but how flawed is too flawed? At what point do they become unable to function in your story, any story?
Their flaws shouldn’t just be there for the sake of having flaws, either. How big and obvious they are is something else we need to consider; do they exist on the scale of a small personality quirk, or something major that impacts on everything they do?
We also want our readers to root for our characters – particularly our protagonists. We want readers to like and care for them, and to want to follow them through the story as the narrative progresses. At the same time, the reader shouldn’t necessarily always agree with the character. They shouldn’t always be on the same page and the character perhaps shouldn’t always be completely sympathetic. We need to get the right balance between having a character a reader can care for and one that isn’t always on the ‘right’ side of the argument.
It’s a tricky issue to get right, but it should be tricky. At their best, characters should be complex and slightly contradictory – just as people are. They are the driving force of novels, pushing on the plot and providing the drama and intrigue. Instead of looking to create the ‘perfect’ character, we should instead focus on what makes them them.
What do you think?