Characters – is this the hardest part?

Here we go – I finished Part II of How NOT to Write a Novel: 200 Mistakes to avoid at All Costs if You Ever Want to Get Published – which concentrates on character development and character representation within your novel.

The authors, Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark, raise some very interesting points and include a Pop Quiz at the end of this part. I took the quiz – and apparently I suck. Way to much stereotyping and it seems my characters would behave to predictable, too. Dang! But hey, first step to solve a problem is knowing there is one. Now I know I will have to look into this and become better.

What did I learn? Here are some points I think are most important:

  • Don’t over-describe, don’t stereotype, no perfect people with perfect manners, thoughts and traits – they would be boring.
  • Ideas and mindset of the character has to fit into the time-setting of the story.
  • The villain needs a reason for his actions. The reader should be able to at least understand, but not necessarily relate to it – e.g. opportunity, money, revenge… . And the foe can’t be other-worldly smart nor a low-key opponent.

Additionally I learned new things about the roles of lovers/friends of my character and how to weave them into the social web of my story. I especially loved the box with the bulleted list naming traits and items that might make the reader dislike my character instantly.

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