There will always be opposing viewpoints on any subject but how often do we read a book where a character appears in the mind’s eye fully formed? For an author, this means drawing on real life and their imagination, crafting and honing their characters until they assume a distinct personality of their own and without reverting to cliché, but the mechanics that underpin this process is a little harder to pin down. Search the internet and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the information available so for this post we wanted to distil our thoughts down to our top three tips for writing great character driven fiction.
1. First and foremost don’t be tempted to overwhelm your reader from the start. Characters, like their stories, should be developed gradually to maintain their intrigue. When we meet people in real life the process of getting to know someone takes time. We interact with them, we observe them and from a literary perspective, this is the way we come to know characters too. Physical characteristics are a point of reference and certainly the place to start but their personalities, motivations, and back stories should be revealed gradually through their actions.
2. Great character development really can be a case of art imitating real life. By integrating the personality of someone you know into your character development you have an authentic point of reference. It’s easy to imagine the way they would behave, their speech patterns and how they would respond to a given situation. Authors can use this to develop dialogue, nuanced mannerisms and quirks which create fully fleshed out characters that really resonate with their readers.
3. None of us lives in a vacuum. It’s the interactions with those around us which ultimately dictate how we are perceived and this is equally true when creating great fictional characters. The alliances we make shape us and it helps to think of secondary characters in the same way an artist thinks about colour. They add depth, texture and nuance to a story and plot. More often than not they are the motivational drivers for the main character and they have to be equally as believable.
Few authors get their characters right with their first draft, it takes patience but our top three tips will certainly help you focus and refine the process. Equally as important take your cues from those authors who have got character development down to a fine art. We recently had the honour of reviewing The Warramunga’s Aftermath of War by Greg Kater and we think it’s a fine example of great character development. We explore this in the BookViral review which you can find HERE.
As we always say, any view is subjective and what we always aim to do with our blog posts is to provide a point of reference upon which you can build. We hope we’ve given you something to reflect upon. Whatever your thoughts we are always open to comments and ideas and if you have a book you’d like to submit for review you can do so HERE