More about Characters

© 2007 Daniel Arenson

In previous writing tips, I've discussed creating great characters, character motivation, and character development. Today, I'd like to discuss characters within the greater context of a story.

When placing characters into a novel, I try to do three things: tighten character relationships, merge characters, and provide an array of different character types.

Tightening Character Relationships

How are your characters related? Good drama benefits from tight character relationships. Can any of your characters be members of the same nuclear family? If so, that could create more powerful drama. When we think back to great stories, the characters are often siblings, sons, parents. If your characters can't belong to the same nuclear family, can they be more distant relatives? If your characters cannot belong to the same family, can they be roommates, colleagues, neighbors? In great stories, even the hero and villain are often strongly related.

Merging Characters

When writing a novel, I try to keep the number of characters under control. Does your villain have five henchman, each who thwarts the hero in a separate scene? Why not combine them into one henchman and give the character extra depth? If you find that your story contains many characters with small parts, consider merging some into single characters and expanding their roles.

Different Character Types

Sometimes I find that it's a good idea to include different types of characters: some male, some female, some old, some young, some serious, some comical. If a reader has trouble identifying with one type of character, he/she might emphasize with another.

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