Sunday, June 23, 2013

Are Your Characters and Scenes Believable?

  Are Your Characters and Scenes Believable?

     One important aspect of writing fiction is your character development.  Are your characters flat and dull, or full of life and individualism? A book will not sell if the characters are nothing more than a person, a job and an existence. 

  A scene telling the reader why he prefers a grey suit to the black one, or that she made a salad using lettuce, tomatoes, celery and avocado “because she knew they healthier than coleslaw” is boring, boring and boring. Unless every word advanced the story in a needed way don’t write them just to fill space.

Successful writers learn to weave information into a story when it’s most needed to advance the plot or outcome of the story.  Readers don't give a diddly-squat about irrelevant ‘facts’ that do nothing to explain what has happened, or will happen later on. Irrelevant facts only annoy seasoned readers who are paying to be entertained by either larger-than-life characters, or those they can relate to. They can often be both when we create realistic characters in our stories. Readers won’t finish reading a book or story filled with similar cookie-cutter characters that look alike but sport different names. How you develop each character can make, or break your story. 

 When developing characters consider what their purpose is, and how they will advance the story.  Who are they and how will they related to your protagonist . . . or your antagonist?  Will they choose sides in a conflict, or will they stay neutral?  Will be true blue, or will stumble and betray?  

What is their personality like? Are they fleeting, steadfast, moody, free-spirited, brooding, introverted, happy, cautious, curious, adventurous, fearful, shy, boisterous, flighty, smart, inexperienced, dumb as a rock, or pure genius? Will they have a tendency for being a psychopathic or sociopathic–or perhaps be outright crazy?  

Some details are needed in a story to detail who and what they are in the here and now, as well as what made them so, for the reader understand fully where they are coming from at this point in time.  However, don’t over explain, and don’t bunch all the details into one part of the story.  Unfold your story in layers. 

Think of it as peeling away the layers of a cabbage– mild on the outside, strong at the core.  The more you peel away, bit by bit, the stronger the story is.  Each layer will increase the readers understanding. A layer can have both strong and mild elements to increase, or soften, conflict.  Unfolding the inner depths of each personality adds three-dimensional traits to each character: showing their different sides.  We are not the same day in and day out. We have fluctuating emotions, dreams, expectations, and drive. Humanize each character with faults and favor for a more interesting story. 

   Develop a sketch of what each character will be like and what their purpose is to help your story progress. If a character has no real purpose it's better to get rid of that character, or provide them with a workable plot-twist. 

   Remember this if nothing else:  Your 3-dimensional  characters must be needed. Every scene needs to make sense and be important to the scene and in understanding the characters in it. Every page must advance the story's plot.