Can’t write without them . . .
Characters. Some writers preach that the story cannot be told until the character development is complete. Other writer’s advocate a more than general understanding is needed to start and the attributes can be revealed as the story progresses.
A main character description should include physical appearance, habits, dreams, attitude, and at least one flaw that keeps haunting the character—the more strange and unique, the better. As writers we need to be concerned about their past, motives, reputations, and who their friends are. Add in a few unique traits and voilà — an engaging character.
A few examples of unique character traits from Winter’s Thief
- In a time when trust is a precious commodity, Oscar is the most honorable man in the kingdom.
- His belief in fate, and dedication to his king’s oath make him the perfect secrets keeper, the faithful king’s henchman, and leader of the Long Bow Knights.
- Honoring his oath creates an internal conflict as his nature battles his duty.
- Because he is of average height, he has had to develop a unique fighting style, superior mental skills, excellent survival abilities, and a sense of self. The successful execution of these skills commands him much respect.
- Young aristocrat arrives at the cathedral with her matching sable coat, hat, and gloves. The mysterious death of her parents forces her to live with an uncle, the Archbishop, who is self absorbed and a little twisted. In her mind, she has become a commoner—a serf.
- Her flaw is youthful impatience, coupled with a blinding passion to return to aristocracy, where she has friends, parties, and new clothes.
- Something unsettling is boiling in her kettle.
Telling and showing events from a character’s youth helps explain their behavior in the story—as we are the product of our history and environment.
Characters are not the only piece of the writing puzzle. But they are very important as poor character description lends itself to an under developed story, similar to a story without a plot, flow, setting, or intrigue. We identify with the characters and they are the glue holding the story together.
As a young boy at family gatherings, I recall listening to the men after a meal. The opinions around the subjects of politics, car brands, hippies, and rock n roll filled the room with energy like aromatic smoke from a pipe. But, when the story telling began everyone found a seat or patch of floor. We sat for hours absorbing the stories, fact or fiction, that shaped who we became and it strengthened our imaginations. Fifty years later I know that a world without imagination would be pretty boring.
Retirement came a little earlier than wanted. I decided it was time for that dream job. Three years later, I am an aspiring writer telling stories that hopefully guides a reader’s imagination to a world of excitement, and provide a brief rest from the everyday duties.
Winter’s Thief is the first of a three book series. Soft cover books available at your favorite Internet bookstore, or at www.AndeanWhite.com. The e-book version is available at Amazon.com.