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What About Characters?

Last week I discussed Genre. I thought about continuing that discussion with more in-depth information on the different types of genre. But I decided to move on to developing characters. This blog is not meant to be a training program. There is more involved than can be revealed in a blog. For actual training you might want to check out Authors Academy (and get a free book on Setting Up Your Business).

As I said, I will now talk on character development.

It is well to consider that your characters are human and humans have desires and flaws. When creating a character make him/her as real as possible.

For example, mankind has a perpetual desire to return to the innocence of the Garden of Eden. Some people believe this and some don’t, but all have it. Some even envision an idyllic world where man is at peace with his surroundings, himself, and with God.

How does this impact a novel? The truth is that every novel ever written or to be written is impacted in some way. The degree of impact will depend on the author’s understanding of that desire and ability to put it to paper.

The exciting thing is that your fictional characters start out with nothing and you can build on that. Then again, your character may be a real person. In the book Perished: The World That Was many of the characters were real, lifted right off the pages of the Bible.

Therefore some characteristics or traits were already known. Even so I was able to take those few facts and develop the characters further.

In the case of Adam there was a constant inner desire to return to the Garden where he walked with God. But that was impossible. So what did he do? In Perished he built a small garden within his home and called it Little Eden. It was a place for quiet meditation or important meetings. That yearning was never really addressed but it expressed itself several times within the story.


Build on what is known.

If the character is drawn from history, you should be able to discern some of his/her characteristics. But don’t stop there. Using what you know and your imagination try to put yourself in that character’s situation. How does he/she react to change? What is her/his temperament?

For example, in Perished: The World That Was I knew certain things about Adam and Eve. They were created perfect, they sinned, and were expelled from the garden. I also knew that both tried to blame someone else for their sin (and ultimately blamed God). Then of course I knew they became parents, suffered the tragedy of Abel’s murder by Cain, and had to start their family all over.

But these facts raised questions. Did they miss the garden? Where and how did they live? What was their reaction to Abel’s murder? And many more questions.

Answering those questions rounded out the lives of both Adam and Eve. Although no mention is made of it in history, I had Adam build a house with a small courtyard that he called Little Eden. Here he would go to meditate, pray, and have meetings with the VIPs of the day. All based on my stepping into his shoes and asking, Would I have missed Eden? The answer was a definite YES.

If your character is entirely fictional you can create whatever characteristics you want. Just be careful and review them. You don’t want to create a character that is unbelievable. Again, place the character in different situations and imagine how he/she would react. Basically it is the same as with a real person, except that here you have a clean slate.

If you are a beginning or established writer you already have one of the tools to do this – it’s called your imagination.

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Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.

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