Waddup Savi Crew!
It’s the reason we remember films we saw as children and why we binge-watch entire seasons on Netflix. A movie, television series or novel can have the greatest plot imaginable laid, out in an enviable setting but if the characters featured are dull, lacklustre and forgettable then it’s doomed to be mediocre, at best.
I’ve heard friends, family and the occasional Booktuber complain “so-and-so movie/TV show/novel would have been top-notch, if the characters didn’t suck.” The reason most likely being, character is the core of the story.
Now, don’t get me wrong, character doesn’t stand alone; setting and plot must stand alongside with it; kind of like a tripod. Without these three elements, the story will suffer. But character is the most important element. Some might disagree and even sound a bit controversial to those who believe in plot-driven stories. But go through any story you’ve ever known and remove the character element from it… Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
So, what’s the most unforgivable writing infraction? When that sucky character is the MAIN character. And believe me, there’s a few of those doozies floating around in Oscar-winning, Emmy-winning and bestselling forms, no less. But just because it sells (and might occasionally make millions of dollars) doesn’t mean that’s what I want for my writing legacy.
The reason why characters resonate so deeply with us is because we see ourselves in those characters. Okay, I hear some of you out there, collectively protesting already but I’m not saying the charismatic billionaire in the YA trilogy reminds you of yourself or the serial killer in the suspense thriller movie harks you back to your childhood days. If you fall into the former category, congratulations, you’re a unicorn. If you fall into the latter, you need Jesus.
But the point is, when we watch a movie, a television show or read a book, before we can become invested, we need to know that we at least identify with the character or the character’s story. So while you might not feel a kindred spirit with that charismatic billionaire, his issues with his mother freakishly parallels your own life. Boom, they got you hooked.
Here’s a perfect example: Law & Order SVU is one of the longest running shows on television and I’ve watched more episodes than I care to divulge—their show marathons are a staple at my house. And while I can’t for the life of me remember a plot from a single episode, I can rattle off Olivia Benson’s life story as though she were family. That’s the importance of character, more specifically, good characterisation.
Before I talk this topic to death (and believe me, I can easily do that), I’ve taken the liberty of adding some YouTube links below from some of my fave Authortubers where they discuss character to help you get started. Beyond that, should you need additional resource material, please feel free to check out a preview to my Series Bible PDF here.
Kristen Martin | How to Create Character Profiles
Vivien Reis | 16 Characters You Should Have in Your Novel
Natalia Leigh | How to Write Your Novel: Character Creation
Alexa Donne | How To Develop Characters
*Credit to YouTube for providing the links to videos mentioned in this blog post.
Make sure to tune in next week where I will be writing the second instalment in the three-part series on ‘Writing Your Novel’ in preparation for Camp NaNoWriMo in July. Anyways, I’m rambling again which means it’s time to sign off… Toodles for now.
And remember, no matter where you live, take a little time to enjoy the island life!