Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Believable Characters: What Makes Characters Believable?

I have decided to begin my study on Believable Characters. I had to take notes and everything and organise what I was going to say before I just slapped it down in writing on my blog! I have been taking these notes from Writing the Christian Romance by Gail Gaymer Martin, which is an exceedingly helpful book, disregarding the genre or denomination you write in/about.

Okay, so now I begin.

Believable characters must be solid, 3-D individuals with depth, goals, needs, motivation and complex emotions. Your characters- to be believable characters- have to change and grow, a little or alot, along the course of your story. Your characters are naturally impacted by the events and situations that you place them in in your story.

The reader's greatest wish is to be able to connect and relate to your amazing, 3-D characters. If your characters are "real" to them, then they will be able to do just that, because your character's plights in themselves or those around them.

The past is what formulates your character's present and future; it's what makes up their goals, weaknesses and present needs. Characters need to have flaws. Flaws are what connects you to other people and will be what connects readers to your hopefully fabulous characters. An unflawed character is like an unflawed, 2-D cartoon character, not a compelling, believable character that readers can relate to.

When you are forming a character's backstory (which will discuss on a later date) give them situations they want to forget and hide from others- secrets that smother their growth until somehting or someone else in your story uncovers it to learn the truth. In stories, and in real life, people can't hide from the past. They may try to cover it up if it is particularly ugly, but it still affects their relationships, values, actions, and behaviours. Some people construct their pasts on a foundation of lies or twisted truths, and try to make sure their flimsy "lie structures" don't collapse around them.

Okay, so not EVERY SINGLE one of your characters needs a deep, dark sin, but still, there must be SOMETHING there that they wish to hide.

Although flaws are major in the creation of your compelling characters, you must keep the character's positive attributes foremost in the reader's minds. Characters with a strong desire to change (for the better) are the type of characters readers love.

The best thing that you could ever give to ALL major characters is a passion and determination to succeed (even the villain). Blending weaknesses and strengths will help you create compelling, beautifully put-together, believable characters that will make your story the belle of the ball.

Which is what you want, of course!

That concludes my study on What Makes Characters Believable. Next post we will be looking at some techniques and Characters, Story and Theme.

Merci pour votre attention!

Much Love,

emma eldon

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The Love Chapter

"If I speak in tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing."

- 1 Corinthians 13 1-3, Study Bible, NRSV