If you’re a writer who is anything like me, your characters and style drive your story. The appeal of your writing is in the characters and the way they are presented. In my current story I’m working with a main character I have been developing with a dear friend of mine for over 3 years.
These characters have lives of their own, back stories from which stories matrix. They are the heart of my writing and though I don’t call them my children or babies or any such nonesence like that, they are a part of me.
Proper character developement can be done by one of two methods, the first method is Omniscient.
Omniscient Character Devopment, or OCD, (yes, that was intentional), is a third person, outline version of developement. The OCD method employs the main skeletal structure of writing used in all areas from screenwriting to sermons. Consequentially that entails writing outlines, and drafts with points and a certain agenda.
- Glade’s family dies when he is young.
- Glade is raised by poor villagers in Kethrim.
- When he comes of age, Glade is exiled from the kingdom on false accusations of murder.
- Glade vows to find his parent’s killers.
- Glade embarks on a journey that leads him back to the kingdom.
- Glade discovers it was the king who killed his parents.
- Glade joins the revolution and kills the king.
- Glade then becomes king of the new kingdom.
- Glade has many adventures as king, eventually becomes enchanted by a sorceress.
- Glade is frozen in ice left to neither live nor die for all eternity.
That’s random fantasy, but it maps out this character’s entire life. It establishes Glade, where he is from, his motive and drive, then traces a path, however long and masked, to his eventual death. His character now has its every motive and significant plot point already created.
The Omniscient method is the most popular because it is formal and gives the writer absolute control over every area of the character. It is an expedient way to progress a character’s life in a short amount of time, leaving only some refinements to be done.
The alternative method, and my favored one to use is what is called –or would be if it existed as a ligitimate term– the Limited Character Developement method, or LCD, (that one was not intentional).
Again, a third person development tool, but it is confined to the circumstance into which the character is placed. Using the LCD method, you only know as much about the character and their choices as the character themselves knows. In a sense, you are living the life of that person, making their choices as the choices arise.
Both the Omniscient and the Limited methods are also styles of narrative used primarily in 1st person renderings. However, Limited is a longer, more pure and potent method of character development due to the fact that the author themselves do not technically know what will happen to them next.
This is a major struggle most amateur writers, and even some professional writers I know of face in their stories. When a character is supposed to feel something in a story the reader should feel it as well. The only way to successfully achieve this is to build your character’s significance and importance before these events occur. If the reader barely knows who the character is, or their relationship to either the main character or the story, whatever the subject character feels will mean nothing to them. The character need to be something significant in the eyes of the reader.
The only other thing I have to say about this, and I don’t think it could ever be emphasized enough is: DON’T EVER KILL OFF A CHARACTER THAT THE READER DOES NOT KNOW!
Firstly, if your reader has no knowledge of a character, to kill that character means literally nothing to the reader. If you kill off a character that the reader has minimal acclimation to, or a character that the main character has no established connection to is not only pointless, it injures your writing.
Those who needless kill off irrelevant characters anger me immensely. With just a few more pages of writing, or a nod to the same character earlier on in the story can give the death of said character exponentially more importance. The more you build that character, the greater the effect will be when you slay them out of the story.
A good death in a story is infinitely more powerful than a good life.
I did have much more to say on this topic, but it will keep until another time. In my next post I hope dive into the allure of night and day writing.
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist