Thursday, August 25, 2011

On Character Depth

Good Thursday morning, fellow book lovers. Today, I want to discuss characters.

We all have characters in our lives. We ARE characters. Art imitates life, right? So if that is the case, what is the recipe for making a fictional character seem real?


Look at any person you know. A neighbor, a co-worker, a friend, your spouse. Can you really fit them into a box? I hope not! I don't think that's legal...

Anyway, my point is, your spouse may be a die-hard Metallica fan, but love sappy movies too. Or maybe you know someone who watches UFC but loves a sad country song. Does this make any sense? We all have very different sides to us.

Do you interact the exact same way with your mother, your child, a co-worker and your spouse? No. Why Because you have depth. You have many roles in life. How you relate to your mother is going to be different than how you relate to a co-worker.

For example, my mother and I break out into show tunes and I occasionally give her tap dancing lessons in her kitchen. Needless to say, that doesn't fly at a high-paced veterinary practice. Instead, I am intense and focused at work. Different roles, different sides to my personality.

So, the idea of someone like Liz from Loving Her: a red-headed, heavy-metal-listening, classic pick-up truck-driving ballerina may not seem so far fetched. If I can love show tunes and tap dancing, but also an intense pace of veterinary medicine, why can't she have those different sides to her personality?

She can, and she should. What service would I, as a writer, provide you (my reader) if my characters were boring, two-dimensional and predictable? None. Who would want to read that book? I wouldn't!

That's why, even Tony in Unbreakable Hostage has moments where you can see he's more than just some kind of monster. Not everyone is all evil or all good. And that MUST be portrayed in writing if it is to be accepted as somewhat realistic (and believable).

It has been said that my stories are character driven. Some authors might take offense to that. Not me. Look at life. Everything in our lives happens because of someone's words or actions. It's not a bad thing at all. My characters create and live their own lives just like we do. And just like us, there are MANY sides to them. They may be fictional, but they are human, just like us. ;)

Happy reading!


Sun Singer said...

Nice post. We're all so complex, I wonder why some writers' first look at their new characters for a work in progress see those people as one dimensional.


L. E. Harvey said...

Thanks, Malcolm! I agree that too many "writers" create flat, predictable characters. Thank goodness I am all over the place, makes it easier to draw upon for my characters! Lol

Hoodie72 said...

Your characters are indeed what make your books relatable. They're people just like all of us going through life, loving, making mistakes, picking up the pieces and carrying on. Keep writing, you're good at it. Oh, and the picture of the old guy is really really gross...thank you for that, lol:)