Saturday, May 27, 2006

Character Development

Today, I'm working on some fairly simple revisions for Bound By Marriage, so I've been thinking about character development, and how much difference in impact it can make if you layer a character; ie. instead of having a one-note villain, you give him a little bit of goodness that makes you stop and think, confusing everyone and driving the story forward as you consider how the author is going to deal wtih this character, who may actually have garnered a little of your sympathy.

The same concept works in reverse with heroes and heroines. Make them imperfect or a little bad and you've increased the interest level exponentially.

Of course, doing any of that well is difficult. I'm still learning like every other writer, but here's my tip - just ask why. Why is your character doing what they're doing and do the traits/history you've given them justify it?



Olga said...

I like flawed heroes and villains with just a touch of something good. In Lisa Gardner's GONE the villain prefers to cutting his arm than hurting his dog, though he wouldn't think before murdering a human-being.

Bronwyn Jameson said...

Nalini, I'm a big fan of layered, flawed and multi-dimensional characters. Agree that getting the motivation right--for their behaviour and beliefs--is key to compelling characters.

Susan Abraham said...

Hi Nalini, This is just my opinion.
I think for me when characters are flawed, they're real in the sense that they reflect an honest perspective of humanity. A hot-temper, a childlike habit, a certain eccentricity, a tendency to petulance...all the things that makes us who we are. And to me that works because it creates within the tale told, a reality that could then very well take place in daily life itself. And with that, your story for the reader becomes highly-personal, memorable and with her own flaws in real life, motivating too in that promising inspirational way! love

Nalini Singh said...

Olga - I remember that villain. It was odd wasn't it, how that tiny little thing made him just shy of evil? If he'd killed the dog, I would've hated him absolutely!

Hey Bron - no wonder I love your characters!!

Susan - what a great way to put it. And so true - a tiny piece of reality in the midst of fantasy perhaps?