In The Mood

How are you feeling today? Or more importantly, how are your characters feeling?

It’s safe to say the “Friend” stories are character-driven. Plots, of course, are vitally important. But character-driven storylines can save a weak plot. Equally, I could be reading an exciting, intricate plot, but if the characters are lifeless and stereotypical, then I won’t be moved by their plight. And no writer wants to evoke that feeling in a reader.

Test Of Faith

So how do we make interesting characters? By making them believable in how they interact within a story world. Let’s take a vicar as an example. A reader would expect a vicar character to act in a certain way by the things he (she) says and does. So is that it then? Have we created a character who jumps off the page and demands the reader’s attention? Far from it.

What makes the biggest impression is the same thing that distinguishes you from me, and from everyone who reads this post – individuality. Does our vicar character have a faith in God – yes, of course. But what would happen if his faith was tested? In my mind, it would make our character more real in the reader’s eyes, as it will show vulnerability and uncertainty. Everyday human characteristics brought to life.

So, our vicar has a crisis of faith, which will hopefully not only create reader interest but, if he’s the protagonist, sympathy. And how this is conveyed through actions, dialogue and feelings will be the deciding factors on whether the character-driven goals have been successfully implemented.

Street Scene

“I am angry,” the vicar shouts. If I read that, I think, well, good for you. But so what. If I read, “I’m angry with God,” the vicar shouts in the street, then the character begins to pique my interest. Better still, “I am angry with God,” a tearful vicar shouts at the droning, insipid faces on the street. Now I am intrigued. He’s not only angry, he’s upset as he interacts with the world around him. And as a reader, I want to find out why.

It’s a matter of detail. And investing a bit of time in your characters’ feelings, whether happy, sad or simply indifferent, can make them stand out for all the right reasons.

Find out more about character creation in our Writing Tools section.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.