Here is another installment in my series of characterization exercises.
No Two Characters Are Created Equal:
Are all of your characters alike? Or does each one have a unique personality? This is vital too strong fiction because if your characters are too much alike:
- Your reader won’t be able to tell them apart.
- They probably aren’t very interesting.
- They may even be stereotypical or otherwise two dimensional.
If you aren’t sure, test this out by considering how your main character and the designated sidekick or best friend would react in a given situation. If possible, pick something from your story or somehow tangential to it. For example, let’s say that your story takes place at school and your two characters find the answer key to the chemistry final.
- What would they do?
- How are their actions/thoughts the same?
- How are they different?
- Why does each of them react in the way that they do?
If there are a lot of similarities or, worse yet, no differences at all, you probably have some work to do.
This is especially important when you write something with a cast of characters – a whole class of students, an army patrol, an office staff, a sports team or a Cub Scout pack. Even when a group of people are in an organization based on a specific set of values or with rigid rules, there is a range of acceptable action. It may be a very narrow range, and some of it may be internal/thought, but it should be there.
Put the effort into character development and you’ll be rewarded. Skip it and your readers will quit reading when they realize they’ve mixed up your characters . . . again.