How Does Your Character Feel? Part Two


I’ve read a lot of books on characterization, including some that have been excellent. Yet so often, I read these books and feel that the author has missed something. 

You see, the book often deals with how to create a character, and invites the author to think about characters in isolation. They might talk about how to build a physical body for the character, and a personal history. They might talk about how to build internal habits and create a convincing voice—and all of this is necessary.


But your character will not exist in isolation. Your character will need to come from somewhere, and will be strongly influenced by family, friends, national agendas, religious leaders, and so on. In short, your character is, to some degree, partly a product of a much larger milieu.

Just as importantly, your character is likely to come into conflict with others—with an antagonist who somehow opposes your character, with a romantic interest, with friends or family, political groups and so on.

For most stories, these conflicts are the engines that drive your story, and the engine only works if you build a sound network of conflicts.


Think about this: Imagine that a young man, we’ll call him Luke Skywalker, lived happily with his aunt and uncle on a small planet named Tatooine long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. He spent his life harvesting water from its dry air using vaporators, and grew old wishing that he had been able to go to the Fighter Pilot’s Academy.

Not very interesting, is it? Without an Empire, without the stormtroopers and the Sith and the Jedi, without Darth Vader and the Emperor, without Ben Kenobi and Princess Leia and Jabba the Hutt and the bounty hunters and countless others, there is no story. Luke would have been a rather boring person, if left alone.

But he wasn’t alone. He had a large cast of enemies and allies adding fuel to his epic story.


Very often, when I’m reading new writers, I find that their casts are so small, that they really aren’t maximizing the conflicts available in their stories.

This week on www.apex-writers.com
NYT Bestselling Author of the Burning Glass series, Kathie Purdie willl be speaking to the Apex Writers’ Group on Monday. Her topic will be “Raising the Stakes”.

On Saturday, Gama Ray Martizen, author of the Goblin Star saga will be our guest.

Live and past recorded Apex Calls are one of the many membership benefits that are included with your subscription at https://www.apex-writers.com/ 

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David Farland

David Farland

New York Times Bestselling Author

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