Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Character Building

Character defined is: 1. the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing. 2. one such feature or trait; characteristic. Or 3.moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.

For writing, a character is the one that is going to be the protagonist, your hero or heroine or your antagonist the one against your hero/ine. With these characters, you will build a world around them and hopefully your plot will be rich enough in detail to keep the reader reading.

You don’t want a character that is like every other character that you read about, you’re going to want a distinct character that your reader will relate to in some way. Maybe the hero is a high-school football player; or a cheerleader. A wannabe model or pro wrestler.

Dig through numerous books on your shelf and find the ones that you like most. What drew you to the character? Why did you like that character so much? It was more than likely because you related to the character or that she/he was someone you had only fantasized about being or someone that was closely related to the very person that you are.

Now that you have your character in mind, you’re going to build a life around her/him. You will give them hair color. Distinct features that make him stand out. You will give him a life, a past, a future. You, in essence, will give birth to a living breathing entity and you will make the reader be the father/mother in this case.

The reader will want to hold him, love him, coo over him (or brag to others) and most of all they’ll want to share this new discovery. Your character has come alive to them through all your rich imagery.

Giving the reader a man who is in construction isn’t as exciting as a “handsome man with a five O’clock shadow, chiseled cheekbones with a dimple, as tall as a giraffe with muscles the size of Atlas. His eyes are dark like pools rippling on a desert highway. His hair is onyx and as silky as a wet sheet. His smile can lighten the darkest of nights.”

You have an image of a hunk, don’t you? A hunk you want to read more about? I won’t go into the details of a woman, I can get pretty graphic. That is not what I’m aiming for here. I’m aiming for you to get a better idea of where you want to take your reader.

Once you’ve given them a taste of your character they will want to read what he is going to get himself into. That is where the antagonist is going to walk in, ugly as all get out, and screw things up for the lovers in the scene. He will be a standout character messing up the what could be complete and happy lives of your protagonists.

My point is; build an excellent character, one that everyone adores, and you will have endless possibilities with the story that will unfold.


Transparent J said...

Does it help to HAVE excellent character, while you are building your excellent character!?

Good post.


joni said...

It DOES help. A good writer has to have character to create those good characters.Then all of our characters would be bad otherwise. :-)

And yes Jason, from miles away I can see you have GREAT character!

Thanks for visiting.