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Developing a Character

By Edited Jan 13, 2014 0 0

Whether for a hobby or a career, writing can be a lot of fun, and very rewarding if you have an interest in telling a story, or even writing a screenplay. Plot is important, clever twists are nice, but one of the most important aspects of a good story or screenplay is developing solid characters. Nothing kills the mood of a story more than flat characters that don't really add anything to it. Humans are emotional, and we need to feel connections to people and objects in order to care about them. That is what great characters do…help us connect with them and the story.

When developing a character, it is important that you have a full understanding of who you want to create. Keep in mind that the audience needs to feel something about the character, whether it's love, hate, or contempt…etc, when they are reading or watching a movie. There's nothing worse than reading about, or watching uninteresting characters that we can't really invest anything into as they fumble around fulfilling the needs of the plot.

The ability to create and develop solid characters is, for most people, something that will need to be worked on. Knowing a person inside and out is not the easiest thing, and being able to work and mold the complexities of the human psyche comes mostly with practice. If you're just beginning to write as a hobby, you may not create the best characters or stories, but rest assured that with time and practice you will no doubt improve.

If you are new to developing characters, you have a couple options on how to begin. You can either start by developing the internal aspects of the character, such as their history and internal conflicts, or you can begin with their physical appearance. One method is not better than the other, and it really just comes down to what you prefer. Again, with practice you will see which works best for you.

If you have a story somewhat planned out before you develop your characters, then the physical environment that the story takes place in can help you out. Things like social status, profession, and desires are great tools for making a character that is believable. Often, our decisions and the way that we carry ourselves are the products of past experiences, or social programming. Let the character and the environment compliment each other.

Exercises have been developed to help us in developing our characters. One exercise that I have found to be helpful is to "interview" the character. You can take one of those quizzes from Facebook or Myspace (or whatever the kids are using these days), and have your character answer the questions. The quizzes that I've seen from the sources often ask a wide variety of questions like "what makes you happy," "have you been arrested," or "what is your religion," and things of that nature. Who knows, maybe knowing what type of desert your character would be can help you in writing your story.

If you're completely stuck, you can always base your character off of a person. We run into many interesting people throughout our lives over the years, and some of them are just strange enough to put into our stories. A great example of this approach is how many of the characters on Seinfeld were based on actual people. You can always change aspects of the real person to suit the needs of your story, and to add a little bit of originality to them.

Ultimately, as with all writing, the hard part is getting it down on paper (or a text editor). Don't focus on writing perfect stories, or perfect characters. All of that can be tweaked down the road, but it can't be if it is not written in the first place. In fact, I'll take it a step further and say that nothing that you write the first time will be perfect. Going back and editing and improving is part of the game. No matter your level of writing skills, if you put your heart and effort into your work, your readers will know it, and be more open-minded.

My best advice is to just write it. With billions of people living on this planet, you should always be able to find an audience somewhere.

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