I’ve been reading a great book, Creating Characters, by Writer’s Digest. There are many things I’m taking away from this but I got a big boost to my novel when I started focusing on the other characters. You know who I’m talking about. Those people who support the main character: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m only half way through this book but I’ve got to share some great tips for those other characters.
EVERY character should have good qualities. Even the bad guys. At the same time, every character, including your protagonist, has flaws. This blend of good and bad is human. Doesn’t sound right? You want your reader to hate your antagonist? Think again! Your antagonist doesn’t consider herself the bad guy. Typical bad guys are boring. (yawn) But a well-crafted antagonist, with her own goals, ideas, and qualities, draws your reader in. They become invested in the story. How is this going to pan out? Give your antag a voice, a POV. Ok, the antag can cheat, steal, lie, or maybe she just made a very bad decision. The point is, she needs to be relatable. My protag is an anti-hero so she’s got some pretty bad qualities herself!
EVERY character is the star of their own world, not just co-stars to your MC. Examine your characters. What has shaped them? Who has shaped them? Why are they the way they are? Why is that character an alcoholic? An introvert? Obnoxious? It’s not just one thing, but a chain of things that got the character to this point in their lives. i.e.- He’s an alcoholic because his wife left him, because he was never home, because he was obsessed with his job, because his father was a bum and he’s determined not be his father, etc, etc, etc. Keep digging at the cause of each link. You don’t have to have a huge backstory but if you understand the fundamentals of the things that have shaped your character, the better prepared you will be to write about him in every scene. You will be able to add color, desire, disappointment, passion, goals, SECRETS.
Ok, that’s enough on those other characters for now. Want to read more? Get the book! Creating Characters by Writer’s Digest.
Coming soon… more about the antihero!