Maybe not physical movement exactly. But I suppose it could be, actually. It’s about the movement of your character from point A to point B, or even to C, D, and E. As a reader, I care about characters that I can track through the story with. I want to be invested in and pulled along with their emotional, mental, and physical challenges that they encounter in the story. If the character goes from point A to point A, what’s the purpose of the story? Why should it exist and why should I even read it? This may seem harsh, but just think of how many other texts that are vying for readers’ attention. You’ve got to make your reader want to stick around to see what happens.
If nothing happens to your character, you either created a boring character, or you did not invest the time to develop a plotline. Both of these things are so important to a successful story.
As a writer, you should look at your character in the beginning, and label where they are ‘point A’ or ‘starting point’. I know this isn’t 3rd grade writing class, but it will help you once your ideas start to really take shape and become complex. This starting point should be well established. We need firm ground to stand on as we get to know the character. We also need a clear point to look back on as the character develops. We won’t know where he is going if we don’t know where he’s been.
As the story progresses, your character moves. That is the key. Your character could be shut in a room for the entire story, and if written well, we could still be affected by his emotional movement; it doesn’t have to strictly be physical movement. This takes some skill, but it is also really cool when an author can accomplish this: to be able to teach/show the reader something just by the thoughts of a charatacter takes precision. No one is expecting this, especially from new authors, but it goes to show that characters can move through stories in different and effective ways.
As you begin to write and edit, it is so important to clearly define where your character starts out. Maybe he just lost his job, or maybe she is just about to get married. Create a sturdy base and then use it as a solid launching point. After a rocket blasts off, it never returns to the same launch pad. And if it does (which would be cool and futuristic), it would have less fuel, more chips in the paint, and lots of burn marks. It was changed. It had an ‘experience’ in space, and came back different, and we had proof of its change. Pardon the nerdy rocket ship metaphor.
The same can and should go for your characters. Let them live, gain experience and knowledge, and let us readers learn and grow as we watch them to do the same. Make it a great journey that we can take right from the comfort of our own couch.
5/16/2016 08:45:15 am
Good example with the rocket, kind of cheesy but it makes sense. I think it would also to be nice to touch on, perhaps in a different post, the need for a character with depth. I am currently reading a book that is good enough to keep going, however the main character is very flat. In fact, it seems some of the periphery characters have more depth than the main one. I feel like I'm losing out and missing half the story. Kind of like when you make a cheese pizza- it's good with the main ingredients (crust, cheese, and sauce) but all that extra flair (peperoni, onions, mushrooms) is missing. I'll still eat it but it could have been so much better.
7/7/2016 04:29:03 am
Trevor, that is also a great metaphor! I absolutely agree, for I've had the same experiences with characters. This is something that authors really have to focus on, because if the characters are flat, as you say, why else would we read a story? We are humans, curious about other humans, even if they are fictional.
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