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, you 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.
So I’ve begun working on a book on creating a cast for your story, with the idea of considering possible social and personal struggles to drive your tale. I hope to get it out for you in the next few weeks.
Next week, I will be in Atlanta teaching a Greenlighting workshop that you can still sign up for.
This week all of my writing workshops are 25% off on MyStoryDoctor.com
We've kicked off a new StoryBundle, a NaNoWriMo Bundle with six books on writing for a minimum of $5, or get twelve books for $15. Some money will be donated to charity. Two of the books in the bundle are my writing books, Million Dollar Outlines and Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing. Check out the bundle here