Character is the pumping, beating heart of story. Character drives the story. Character
is the single most important element in storytelling. Create lasting characters
and you will have created lasting, resonant, engrossing stories.
Regardless if you are a beginning writer, novice or pro, a good story well told
begins with great characters. Unique characters. Interesting characters. Rounded,
three-dimensional characters. And most important, conflicted characters.
When preparing for a difficult role, the incomparable stage actress Helen Hayes
once said, "I will know the character when I find her shoes."
Do you know the type and style of shoes your characters wear? If you don't, you
don't know your characters.
You cannot have plot without character; you cannot have tension without character;
you cannot have resolution without character.* Consequently,
in my online instruction, in my classes and in my analysis consultancy, I devote
more time, emphasis and analysis to character development and character arcs than
any other elements. Additionally, the other character elements I concentrate on
in your work include:
What I strive for most is to help you—show you—how to give each of your
characters memorable, recognizable traits.
And then there's
* Okay, let me backpedal here. The difference between "drama" and "melodrama"
is that "drama" is character-driven and "melodrama" is plot
driven. In plot driven books and movies, the author forces the (usually paper thin)
characters to do and say things that often don't make sense or grate against the
character's true beliefs, intents and motivations. Melodramas are easily recognizable,
are generally unsatisfying to the reader or viewer and eminently forgettable. Don't
fall into the trap of melodrama. You can do better. Much better.