Thursday, May 3, 2012

Writing Craft: What is a Character?

What are characters?
  • They are the individuals with whom you people your universe. Without them, there is no story. They either do things or things are done to them.

In prose, there are two types of characters.
·       Major Characters: Usually not more than two or three in a story. Novels may have more.
o      They have names and descriptions
o      Your readers know what they look like
·       These characters are “fleshed out”
o      Whether or not the author actually mentions it, the reader senses that these characters have a past, a history.
o      They have hopes, desires, emotion, interests, hobbies, etc.
o      They have likes and dislikes
o      They have emotion, passion, fears, biases, hang-ups. They carry baggage from their past.
o      They have intelligence, or lack intelligence. They may be naive, street-wise, savvy, ignorant, educated, uneducated.
o      They have mannerisms, quirks, and reflexes that identify who they are.
o      They have speech patterns. It may be a booming voice, a soft voice, a stammer, a hesitancy. They may be pretentious in their choice of words or use common street language. 
o      They often have some sort of “catch phrase”.
§       In the movie, The Searchers, John Wayne always says,
“That’ll be the day.”

·       Minor Characters: These characters are superficial. The reader doesn’t need to know much about them.
o      Minor characters may have a name and a description
o      Usually they appear temporarily and interact with the main characters in some way.
o      They may be used as a catalyst for some event with which the main characters must deal.
o      They are not fleshed out

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