Don't rush your characters

Hi friends!  So this week I read several samples of books that had one thing in common.  Characters that were over driving their headlights so to speak.  What I mean by that is the people in the stories were being forced along before I'd actually met them.  Forced by dialogue, forced by circumstance, and forced by conflict.

The characters in stories are like the sticky stuff on the back of Post-Its.  The story is written on their backs and if they're being hurried along or forced in some way, the note doesn't stick.  In fact, it gets crumpled up and thrown away.  In my opinion a character has to develop slowly- they have to be revealed to the reader not all at once, but little by little.  In the recent story I read the plot was good, the theory was sound but the characters were hurried along so fast, by dialogue that revealed too much about their situations especially, that by the second chapter I didn't care what happened to them.  When a reader doesn't care what happens to the characters, it's game over folks, pack up your things and head out.

So, here's some ideas to develop your characters well without forcing the issue:

  •  Don't over-describe- This kinda falls in with my last post about telling instead of showing.  Telling too much about a character can be stifling for a reader.  Give a general description that is original or shows the reader something unique about the character.  Let the reader imagine, they'll always be able to think it better than you can write it
  • Make the character relateable- Your characters can't be uber heroes anymore without any faults.  No one can relate to someone who doesn't have a weakness.  Having multi-faceted characters will make them three dimensional and more real to the reader.  Let the hero fall and make the villain have a genuinely humorous side, it will endear them to the reader and make the book more enjoyable.   
  • Let your character speak- Your characters grow the best when watered with dialogue.  Let them talk naturally to one another.  Always keep your eye on where the story is headed and make sure your characters are driving it in the right direction with what they're saying.  I always read that once you really got to know your characters they would just begin talking on their own.  I find this to be true, so let them speak and they'll show you how well they're able to stand on their own two feet.

So that's it folks, just a few quick tips.  There's tons of other ways to develop characters in your tales but hopefully the aforementioned ideas will help you let them grow naturally without rushing them.

Until next time, write hard and if you get a chance, let me know what you think of the posts- I'd really appreciate it!