On Characters and Contradictions

Your book is nothing, absolutely nothing, without characters. Good, strong, believable, multidimensional, characters. Now a days that especially hold true for antagonists. You might be able to pull off a good old fashions, evil just for the sake of being evil villain. If it's done right, but readers want to connect. They want to understand these characters inside and out.

I have a friend who introduced me to a series called, The Dresden Files, by Jim butcher. We read them together, and gush over them together. The hero, Harry Dresden, lives in Chicago.  The thing is, Jim Butcher's characters have such presence in the novels that when my friend went to Chicago for a few days, she told me how she expected to see them walking in the streets. If you ever want a fun read and a good study of character voice and development, I think this series is one of the best.

Anyways, the point being that, yes the story is good, but it wouldn't be as good without Harry Dresden and all his friends, acquaintances, and of course, antagonists.

So the question is how do you make a character from this, 







To...






Or maybe even...
















(All credit for this art goes to Tracy J. Butler)

There's a lot of little things that go into it. Voice, and actions, those little bits and pieces that happen in their past and how they react to any given situation. After all I'm sure no two of your characters would react the same if you... lets say, had them go to sleep in their beds at night, and wake up in a padded round room with no doors, and probably a straight jacket.

But I want to talk about contradictions. (and hopefully snag some good opinions while I'm at it.)

I don't think it's something authors really think about. (At least I didn't.) But it happens non the less. People have tons of contradictions so your characters should to. Most the time you probably put them in without even realizing it, and it may not be the most important aspect to consider when you begin to flesh them out. But it's one of those little pieces that make up the whole.

For example my character Aaden, in my current novel, The Cursed Prince, can climb anything graceful as a cat jumps through the air. But I I swear he trips over everything. He's got to be the clumsiest character I've ever created and I didn't even notice it until well after I completed the first draft.

Though I find it hard to think them up myself. So I was wondering, How do you contradict yourself?

The one I notice most about myself is that I'm a writer, but if you saw my journals you'd cry because of how bad the spelling is. (Lets not talk about the grammar issues) At least I can tell a good story! 


Comments

  1. I was just thinking about how to make believable characters today. I got an idea for a book which could be a good character study, and I was thinking about modeling it after King's The Stand, which follows the individual lives of the several main characters for a long while until they come together. The resulting characters are marvelously multidimensional. I have Dresden Files on my to-read list, but maybe I'll bump it up if it has exceptional character development. I might be able to learn a thing or two.

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    Replies
    1. His development is great, but the voice is so much better. They all have so much personality and individuality. I read them once around for pure enjoyment, twice around for the same reason, and third purely for study.

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