How to create ‘real’ characters?
Have you ever noticed how once you meet a person, you immediately judge them and create a certain way of thinking about them and later something happens, you find out something new about them and your whole vision of that person turns upside down? For example, your head at work was never smiling and doing poor in the organizational matters. You think she’s just stupid, especially that she’s younger than you. Maybe she’s unexperienced, especially that she got the job because of her friend. One day you see her crying, you find out that her boyfriend broke up with her not long ago and she still can’t get over it. And everything changes… And, to be honest, you feel like an asshole, because of the way you judged her before. It’s not a pleasant feeling, but discovering the other, deeper side of another person is fascinating.
Why am I writing that? I had a similar situation just a few days ago and I realized it can be essential for us – writers. We can use this mechanism in our books, to create more live, real characters. Lately I was writing a story and reading it my friend suggested: ‘Color those black characters’. It was one of the best suggestions I’ve ever got.
But how should we do it? How to create real characters, if we’re not psychologists nor the specialists in human behaviors? Well, we should become those. I don’t mean starting another faculty on university, but simply looking around. I already wrote about the importance of observing other people. Now it’s time to observe also yourself – your reactions to others, your visions of them, why you react this and not the other way, when you change your mind, etc. Especially this last point is important: when somebody’s behavior surprises you, maybe even delouses, stop a second and analyze. What happened? What did they do? What was I thinking about them before? Then include those mechanisms into your books.
For example, have you read ‘Solaris’ by Stanisław Lem? If not – that is your homework. Notice how surprising the characters are, how deep despite, or maybe exactly because of, having many unrevealed secrets. The most amazing thing is how those few characters give you an overview on humanity and it left me blown away.
Do you know other books where the characters are very well described? Share them in the comments.