8 Ways to Write Better Characters
The very first novel I, aged 20-something, wrote, is unpublished and will stay that way. An ensemble coming-of-age story of four teenagers, its weaknesses are legion: tame story line, thin action, unimaginatively rendered settings, hackneyed themes (though I will say the dialogue wasn’t bad). Having now published seven novels, I look back on that manuscript and realize that underlying the shortcomings I just mentioned lies its principal flaw: poor character development. The kids just don’t pop. So I’ve been pleased to read reviews of my latest novels (the Rita Farmer mysteries) that praise the characterization—and I’ve been struck by the number of them that cite the realism of my characters’ relationships. Let’s consider, to start, the categories of relationships we might write in our fiction: Romantic Parent/Child Siblings Aggressor/Victim Rivals/Adversaries Best Friends Boss/Employee Caregiver/Receiver Cop/Criminal Partners (in business, crime, etc.) … and so many more. Here’s how. 1.