Every writer would love to create a memorable character. Just think of a name – for example – Scarlet O’Hara; and most will immediately know who she is. I learned much from studying other characters including Scarlet and noted immediately the changes and similarities in her character as she matured and circumstances changed her. Although she does do some good things, her childhood of being pampered shine through even as she becomes an adult.
1) Studying and learning the art of character development can be done through watching well-developed characters in movies and reading good books. Even a bad movie or book is able to see what shouldn’t be done.
I recently tracked my ancestors. Their trek of hardships, persecution and success is on a website now called – The Miller Story. I discovered another fascinating facet for learning character development while working on this project.
2) Observing and learning from your own friends and family can help create fascinating characters. You will see principals/integrity/characteristics and the way religion might play a part in character development in a very realistic, true manner.
Today, I have no idea whether I am getting old or the world is changing. If the world is changing I get a niggling fear inside as I think – I’m truly my mother now. It can’t be possible. But when I watch the anger and hostility often displayed towards others with different opinions. I fear there is no tolerance left and there is a real push to make everyone think the same. That makes me truly sad. I imagine a time when I will pick up any book or watch any movie and will see the same people with the same reactions and beliefs; the same type of good guys and the same type of bad guys or an obscure line of being all the same. Groundhog Day – move over.
3) Dare to be politically incorrect. We are after-all, fortunate enough to live in a place where we have freedom of speech. We should never create a character just because he/she fits into the fads of today. Dare to create a character who you may love or hate but definitely a memorable character regardless. Dare to be different.
I recall a time in school where we often held debates with other schools. The secret was to have two opposing views. It was a challenge when I had to debate realistically taking the side of something I didn’t believe in. We were given the side we were to debate – it was not necessarily our own beliefs or opinions. This has helped me immensely when writing about a character I don’t necessarily agree with.
3) Listening and understanding another person’s opinion can go a long way in creating characters that aren’t one-dimensional.