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Five Tips on How to Make Your Fictional Characters Engaging


So you've begun your novel and perhaps you've already had lots of ideas for your characters. They will probably be a composite of different people you've met in the past, or even different aspects of yourself. But how do you make them engaging? And not just the hero, but several characters? - and dare I say it, even the main antagonist or villain? Because no-one is completely good or completely bad; and for a villain to be truly convincing there must be some elements of the character which the reader can either recognise, relate to, or even empathise with - yes, even Gollum and Voldemort!

The same things that make you like people in real life are the things which make fictional characters engaging. We don't like people who are self-appointed; people who are hard and impregnable; people who are (or appear to be) boring and predictable, and people who refuse to ever freely share anything about themselves with anybody else.

To make things simpler, when I refer to "the hero" I also mean "heroine" and will use "he" although I mean both he and she.

So here's how to make your fictional characters engaging (from my own experience):

1) Your character must not be self-appointed - this means that if you want your reader to like the hero, that hero must not appoint himself to the task he ends up doing, or the quest which he ends up fulfilling. Before the hero sets out on the quest, he must have been tested, and changed; he must have died (to his default expectations of himself) and been reborn; and he only takes on the quest because he is tested again and again, and succeeds. He does not set out on the quest because he thinks he's good and big and clever enough to do it.

2) Your character needs to show vulnerability - this is vital. We cannot like people who are hard and impregnable. Even Gollum touches our hearts. He was once a warm, sensitive human being - he was destroyed by lust for the Ring - Frodo chooses to believe Gollum can be redeemed. (And actually, he can - but he ultimately chooses not to be).

3) You must explore your character inside and outside. The reader must be intrigued by the gap between what the character says of himself, and what other characters say of him - very few of us have 100% self-knowledge, and if we did, we probably wouldn't be likeable. The same principle applied to the gap between what the character says or thinks of himself, and what he actually does.

4) You must know your character's backstory - what happened before he came to enter this story? Why? How? Where? When? What is his motivation?

5) You must defeat the reader's expectations - and your own - in real life, we can never truly fathom each other. This is the joy of writing fiction, in which the author can play God. You can let the reader into the inmost hearts of your characters, if you choose. And yet, you must always defeat the reader's expectations. Defeat your own too. That's when your characters become as real as they can be, in fiction. That is where inspiration, intuion and originality lies. And that comes from the unconscious mind - as anyone who has studied the writings of Carl Jung will know.

S.C.Skillman is the author of exciting new psychological thriller novel "Mystical Circles". You can buy the book on Amazon and through the Kindle Bookstore, or visit the author's website to find out more, and click the secure payment gateway to buy a signed copy at http://www.scskillman.co.uk.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Sheila_C_Skillman




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