We’ve all been there. The character we painstakingly crafted to perfection through character biographies and outlines do a complete one-eighty after a few short chapters into the story. The proverbial bad-boy turns into a mushy pile of goo as soon as the leading lady hits the stage. The soulless monster learns to love after witnessing the heart-warming smile of a child. The greedy, selfish executive shows his softer side by giving his lunch to the stray dog that comes around from time to time.
One of the more important things that I have learned over the past thirty years of writing is that no matter how hard you try to keep your characters true to the way you have envisioned them, the characters and storylines will eventually develop their own voice. Your characters are going to show you sides of their personalities that you had not consciously decided to write into the storyline. Characters, even those that may not be homo-sapiens, are going to grow over the course of a story. They are just like humans, multi-faceted with many, many layers. The more human they act, the more they grow, the more realistic they become, not only to you, but to your readers as well. It is these characters that often endear themselves to us as readers. Learning to let them find their own voice throughout the course of a story can be hard to do. Writers are much like parents, guiding their creations along, nudging them back onto the right path from time to time. And like parents, it can be very hard to let your creations go to pursue their own lives.
Whatever challenges your characters may find themselves in, learn to take cues from what they are telling you. If you find that your character is behaving in a fashion that doesn't fit the personality that you first conceived for them, take a step back and reassess the situation and their response. Is the reaction one that you can really see them having, given the situation and the other characters involved? After all, it's not unusual for the vicious killer to get upset if the woman he loves is injured; it shows that he is, after all, human, even if his species isn't. Learning to listen to your characters and letting them find their own way and behave in a manner that is true to their own unique personality not only makes them well rounded, but it gives your story, and characters, a feeling of reality, whether you are writing that great American love story or the wildest sci-fi adventure ever seen in the universe.
To tell you a little more about Nicola Matthews, she offers this:
My love of literature started at the age of six with Dr. Seuss. Not happy to merely read about the wondrous tales and adventures that so captivated my imagination, I began jotting down stories to amuse myself. By the age of thirteen, I had penned my first novel and started my journey into the publication world. Over the next ten years, I would write two additional novels, eventually putting my writing career on hold as I raised a family. Eight years ago, finding myself unemployed and expecting my third child, I took back up the call of the pen and began writing short stories and posting them online to various social media pages. Within a year my stories were receiving thousands of hits a day. At the urging of a fellow author, I began researching the independent publishing option. In addition, I went back to college to finish my degree in business management and operations. Three years later, I created my own independent publishing label and published my first novel. The next five years would see another three novels to hit print, scores of short stories, and more than four million readers worldwide.
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