So, as most of you know, I am a writer. I haven’t posted too much about writing on this blog yet,(besides my actual writing in photo stories) but I did say I’d like to post some about my writing back in January. So today, I’m going to share a big tip on writing!
One of the most important parts of a story are the characters. If your characters are boring, annoying, or just plain dumb, your reader will most likely put the book down, no matter how exiting the plot is.
You have to give your character dimension, you have to make them as much like a real person as possible. If they only have one interest or trait, they won’t be very intriguing. They have to have some sort of flaw. I’m going to write two different short paragraphs, and you’re going to determine which one was better.
There once was a girl. She lived in a huge mansion, for she was smart enough to graduate medical school at age eighteen. She paid for her mansion herself. She was also very pretty and kind. Even though she had much to brag about, she always was patient. The money that she didn’t spend on her absolute needs, she donated to charity.
There once was a girl who lived in a huge mansion. She was very smart, but she often liked to boast to her neighbors. She had graduated medical school at age eighteen, her smarts were worth bragging about. She made a lot of money from her job as a doctor. She kept it all to herself, but people still liked her. She was very bright, people couldn’t help but ask for her wisdom.
Now I know neither of those are very good stories, but the point was to share the character. The character was in the same situation, she just had different personality trait. In the first paragraph, she was virtually perfect. She was smart, rich, charitable, patient, kind, and even beautiful. While she seems like a nice girl, she doesn’t seem very realistic. It would be hard to introduce conflict in her life if she take everything wonderfully.
“Miss!” Someone knocked at her door. “I’m afraid there’s been some mistake and you’ve lost all your money!” The bad news was delivered. “Oh well,” she thought. “I know I’ll be okay somehow with my doctor job and my talented brain.”
Girl A takes things so well, that there never really is a conflict in the story. She’s not realistic at all, and chances are your readers will put the book down.
But don’t worry! You can give her a flaw to make her dimensional and real like girl B!
“Miss!” Someone knocked at the door. “I’m afraid there’s been some mistake and you’ve lost all your money!” The bad news was delivered. “Huff!” she sighed. “Now what will I do! I’ve got no money!”
Now, you can send your character on a quest to find more money and she’ll grow along the way. Maybe she can learn to give away a portion of her money, and she’ll get enough to support herself in return.
Dimensional characters are not only helpful to the plot, but the are detrimental to the plot. They seem real, they’re relate-able, and most importantly, they drive the plot. Most stories involve characters changing in some way.
Your character doesn’t have to have the flaw that is stereotyped with their prominent positive trait. Maybe they’re beautiful, but that doesn’t mean they’re vain. Maybe they’re secretly insecure.
So, in writing whatever story you’re writing, make sure to keep your characters dimensional and intriguing. They don’t have to be perfect, in fact, you want them to be imperfect! Try to keep them real.
What did you think of this post? Should I make more writing tips? What’s your favorite tip for writing about characters?