Below is an interesting article about Creating Authentic Characters written by Sherman Smith. As with previous articles I’ve reposted in the past, I enjoyed the message and want to offer a few observations of my own a well.
When it comes to creating characters, I was taught not to try too hard to create a deeply unique persona. Doing so, I was told, can strip away a character’s humanity, leaving them alien or cartoonish—difficult for the reader to identify with. Rather than embellish or bloat a character’s persona in an effort to make them more interesting, I was taught to closely observe what might at first appear to be a boring character in order to discover what is special about them.
A character that is allowed to simply be will, over time, reveal the quirks of their personality much as a infant develops personality traits that quickly distinguish them as a unique and special human being.
The key is to envision your characters fully, see them for who they truly are, rather than thrust ridiculous idiosyncrasies upon them in a heavy-handed attempt to make them more engaging. Ever single person, past, present, or future, has qualities that make them interesting. Your characters are no exception.
With this in mind, the question becomes not, “Can I come up with an authentic character?” but rather, “Can I envision my authentic character clearly enough to portray them to the reader?”
For more on envisioning your characters, as well as your story, check out my prior post on The Pool.
Happy writing. —R Scott Boyer
Character is also generational. “The old man accepted a hand shake as another man’s word of honor.” Today there are few that grasp that. After seventy years of living behind the Iron Curtain some words like ‘Is it the truth’ or ‘Is it fair’ were not translatable in Russian; at least not with meaning. So when you paint your character with CHARACTER make sure it fits the time and the world they are moving through.
Your readers will grow to love or hate the characters you have created because they know that you to feel the same way.
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