Monday, May 14, 2012

A Discussion About Character

Aristotle said: "Man is his desire." Desire is motivation in life to get what you want. That is how a character in a story gets what he wants - through motivation. And in that motivation is conflict. So, what we have here is a character who wants something in the worst way, and has to try and find a way to get it. Character motivation. But nothing is easily won, so there is going to be conflict around it.

All characters must have credibility. They must be believable and appropriate for their situation. Without this, your reader will shake his head, close the book and say, "No way!"

All characters need to have purpose. Why are they doing what they are doing? A character needs to know what they want, not necessarily how to get it.

All characters need conflict. There are two kinds of conflict. Inner conflict is part of a character's growth. No one is 100% pure and facing the demons that lurk inside are part of a character's growth. A character must be capable of change so they can grow from their conflicts. Outer conflict is where a character meets difficulty with others. This can lead to the inner conflict and produce change. There has to be character development through conflict in the story to create a plot.

I have briefly discussed each idea with you in the hopes that it will help you expand your characters. These are basic character attributes and there are others that could fill a page or two. But without the basics;
1. credibility
2. purpose
3. conflict
your characters will seem flat and uninteresting. Take a moment to create a new character and tell me who he/she is and what they want and why...


  1. Good information. I seem to struggle with my characters being a bit too cerebral and not have enough external conflict. The character I'm thinking of is Roland. He's intersting because he has in him the power to control or destroy the world but all he wants is to make pies.

    1. Bethie: What an interesting character. To have all that power, but only want to do something with his hands. He sounds diferrent than most. ALmost humble.

      Glad you could join us!

  2. Totally agree with characters needing those three basics before anything else! Otherwise it can just feel like they're wandering around while a story happens around them. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Shallee: I like your description of having the characters "wandering around while the story happens around them". How true it can be.