Anyone who has dipped their toes into the world of writing novels knows how crucial character development is to telling strong stories. Plot, setting, and dialogue are necessary building blocks of fiction, but your characters are the foundation that your story is resting on—without dynamic characters, no amount of plot twists, fantastical settings, or authentic dialogue will magically transform into a novel that people want to read.
If the success of your novel is in fact riding on the strength of your characters, you need to know who they are, inside and out. More importantly, you need a character with a strong voice, one that can reveal the emotional depths of your story to the reader.
Every author has had to tackle following question at some point, whether it be Shakespeare or J.K. Rowling: Are the heroes of my tale going to be of common stock or noble heritage? Will I create a lower class or upper class character? It has been a heated topic of debate since long before the Brothers Grimm ever picked up a pen, and it’s a debate that continues on to this day.
I consider myself a writer. But there are a lot of days on which I don’t write anything more than a post on Facebook. Then there are days where I spend hours pecking away at the keyboard. But overall, I would love to write more, not less.
We all know some writers who are really disciplined. For example, Stephen King writes 2,000 words a day every day without fail. Why can’t I do this? What’s keeping me from writing? What’s keeping you from writing more?
We hear voices in our heads in the middle of the night. We see scenes in our minds like movies and are compelled to capture them on the page. We look around at the world and notice things, things other people might not see. Writing procrastination—well, that’s just not in our vocabulary.
We are lovers of stories. We gasp at expertly crafted sentences. We smile at innovative turns of phrase. We’re left breathless at the fierce beauty of a story well told.
We are writers. And writers write, right?
The most crushing piece of criticism authors can hear is that their main character is “flat” or “two-dimensional.” This is especially true for writers who have poured a lot of their personal experience into their protagonist’s journey. Conventional writing wisdom tells us that main characters need to be “dynamic” characters who evolve over the course of the story.
But what exactly does “dynamic” mean? If your protagonist doesn’t actually change all that much, does that make them flat and static? Are they, by default, a poorly written character?