Rachel Thompson

Alana Cash – Creating Believable Characters

Creating Believable Characters

by Alana Cash

Think about Superman in his current incarnation.  He is a fantasy character, yet, we are absorbed when we read about him or watch the Superman movies.  That’s because even though Superman is an archetype of the “good guy,” he also has character traits that we can identify with.  He has weaknesses (Lois Lane and kryptonite), enemies, friends, morality, passion, courage, conflict, sadness, etc.

Why is he so popular?  Because we fantasize about having more power than we feel we possess and using that power to do and be “good.”  And his weaknesses and human traits make that seem a tiny bit more possible.  But mainly we like fantasy characters because we like to fantasize life situations that remove us from day to day gritty life.

But what about characters living in day-to-day gritty life?  Real people we meet or work with or who live next door to us.  The type of people who may have secret identities they want to keep secret.  They feel love, lust, embarrassment, shame, longing, compulsion, fear, guilt, laziness, avoidance, insecurity, vulnerability.  They also do kindnesses for strangers and look for ways to be helpful and needed.  They bruise, break, and catch diseases.

It takes some work to find the right balance for the hero and villain to be truly engaging.

No completely bad characters are very interesting because they are predictable.  And the same for completely good, wise and kind characters, unless they have crazy children or in-laws that try their patience. We have to identify with characters in order to champion them – their confusion, loneliness, and desperation.   Their greed and violence has to be stronger than their love and discipline for us to hate them.  In short, characters have to be multi-dimensional.

If you want to create believable characters, you have to bring them to life remembering that human beings are multifaceted – there isn’t “good guy”, “bad guy.”  There are many layers and levels and you have to know them – physically (how tall?  How heavy? Eye color, etc.), emotionally (how do they process anger? Disappointment?  Love?), psychologically (how smart are they? How intellectual? How do they solve problems?  Budget their money?), socially (do they work?  Who do they live with?  Divorced? Children?), and spiritually (do they have a particular faith? Do they read their horoscope? Do they have a moral code?).  What are their faults and tragic weaknesses that contrast with their truly exceptional, admirable qualities.

There is a downloadable chart for creating characters on my website www.alanacash.com that will help you create characters with depth.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre –  Women’s Fiction

Rating – PG13

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Alana Cash on her

Blog http://howyoulovetexas.blogspot.com/

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