In a short story, the main character and the plot are the most critical elements. Today, we will talk about the creation of your main character.
Think about it for a moment –
How do you usually come up with the character in your story?
- They flash into the forefront of your mind fully formed.
- The plot comes first, and then you create the WHO?
- How much do you know about your character BEFORE you start writing?
I’m asking these questions because, over the past few years, I’ve read countless articles about characters and their creation. Here are a few of the ideas I’ve seen:
- A Questionnaire from Your Character (I’ve seen dozens!)
- How to Introduce Your Character
- How to Verify your Protagonist
- How to Create an Antagonist your Readers will Love
- How to Create Characters and Not Caricatures
So, there are LOTS of ways to create the physical and psychological characteristics of your character, but creating your character is MUCH more than picking out a name and physical characteristics.
If your reading falls flat, or folks are responding to your stories in a negative manner, it is because you haven’t fully fleshed out the main character.
While this is difficult to do in short stories, especially flash fiction, it is necessary. And it is doable. It is all about technique, thought, and purposefully making your character strong.
The story will center around a significant change in your character. Whether it is growing up, forming an opinion, or merely moving from Point A to Point B, this change MUST happen in your story.
The difference usually centers around the PLOT.
Ultimately, you will find that a good short story is character-driven OR plot-driven, but I think the best stories are character-driven as well as plot-driven. It seems like the duality of the story gives it a lot more flavor and endears your character to the reader.
In next week’s blog, I will provide you with MY process for building characters. I will also give you some other resources so YOU can make YOUR process.