Monday, July 18, 2011

How to... Create a Character Part I

Characters are one of the most important parts of a story, so today we will take a closer look on how a Character should be.
First of all there are three different sorts of Characters:

  1. The Protagonist, our lovely hero, who tries to safe the world… well sometimes.
  2. The Antagonist, the villain. He doesn’t need to be bad, he just needs to work against the protagonist
  3. The Sidekick. Ah, the memorable and funny sidekick. What would Frodo have done, without Sam? Yeah, right. He would have failed.

Because of the variety of different genres this cast of characters is often changed and sometimes you don’t even recognize who is who.

But despite which sort the character belongs to, there are some traits that every character needs. We call a well written character three dimensional because we have the feeling that he comes to life between the pages.
Such a character has a goal, something he fights for. He has a reason, a motivation why he acts like he does and we can understand those motivations. In most times we even recognize a part of ourselves in the character we are reading about. That is the main reason we continue to read the story, we empathize with the character and we want to know how his story ends. That can happen with the protagonist as well as with the antagonist. I remember a lot of times when I felt for the bad guy (like always :) ).
Your character needs a back story. He isn’t born in the first few pages of your story, he lived before and things happened to him. Bad and good things. Those things changed your character, the way he sees life, the way he interacts with others and the way he reacts in different situations. So, to understand the character we, as the reader, have to know something about his past. Not everything of course, that would be too much, but maybe just one little bit of information (why the protagonist and the sidekick are so loyal to each other for example)
So for today we learned, that a character needs Motivation, a Goal and a Background.

What else does a good character need in your opinion?
On the next “How to…” we will talk about that. I’m thinking about doing more How to’s about creative writing (to see the others click here and here) on a regular basis (something like Writing Wednesday). What do you think about that? Tell me about it in the comments

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