Do you use a character sketch sheet when you are trying to build your characters or do your characters develop as you write your story?
For some of us developing the most compelling characters for our story isn’t as easy as it may be for others. They don’t quite come to life until we put them in the story we have created.
Writer’s Digest first suggest:
- Picking a point of view allows the readers access to your character’s inner lives (emotions, thoughts, sensory experience).
- The way to share a unique character’s world view and the events he/she experiences in the world (philosophy, observation, opinion)
Psyche Guides suggests:
- The best approach towards creating engaging characters is by ensuring that they are believable, complex and flawed. (Of coarse we all know this.)
- Typically it includes drawing on personal observations, giving the main character conflicting, conscious and unconscious goal, and developing an interesting backstory.
Most influential books of this genre is Aspects of the Novel (1927) by the English author E. M. Foster. He believed that the most engaging characters move us emotionally. They feel real and surprise us as we turn the pages. He goes on to describe complex characters as “Round”. Ex. Madam Bovary and characters written by Jane Austen. Madam Bovary is the romantic heroine from Gustave Flaubert’s novel. He said that “Flat” characters have only two or three very pronounced character traits, that can only be summarised by a single sentence. He believed that they are only capable of moving us in a way through humor. When they are confined to secondary roles, they support our main story without distracting our readers.
To Foster, our most compelling and main characters should have the complexity of being human. They should surprise us and transform before our eyes in unbelievable ways.
I can only encourage you to compare what these sites and Foster have to say to your characters.
How do you develop your character? Share your techniques with us.