September 23, 2009

Writing Characters that Have Depth

Jeff Colburn wrote an article on character development that mentions some things you need to know about your characters. I totally agree that you need to know these things. But that's not what gives your characters character. Character comes through decisions, needs, and hardship. If your protagonist grew up in a trailer park, that's fine. But if he resents his parents, hates his neighbors, and is stuck in a grade F school because of it, even better. But still dig deeper. Show the struggle. Live the conflict. That's how you can get real characters.

So how do you dig deeper? Funny you should ask, because QueryTracker has a terrific article on that as well. Character Development with a Theatrical Approach discusses techniques actors use to make their characters (and the lines they give) believable. This is a great article to read if your characters lack depth and emotion.

And for all you YA and middle grade writers out there, here's a must-read: Writing the Middle-Grade Novel By Kristi Holl. Seriously. It's brilliant. There are links that help you understand how being a kid is different now than it was 5, 10, or 50 years ago. It tells you what kids like in a book, what they're looking for, what's important to them. It covers dialogue, conflict, and setting. If you write for anyone younger than 18, or think you may want to in the future, this should go at the top of your list.

1 comment:

Lou said...

Good post. I always seem to have one character (my main character would you believe) that is well thought out and i know exactly how they act/react in situations. However, my secondary characters always lack the depth you talk about. So, i'll definately be checking out these links. Thanks! :)

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