Fictional Characters – Common Fictional Character Mistakes
Although some people are naturally gifted writing fiction, us normies can improve our fiction writing with a little bit of work. If you’re keen to give it a go and picture yourself as a promising fiction writer, you probably want to get started with the least amount of mistakes made. In today’s blog post, we’re going to have a look at the mistakes made when working with fictional characters in fiction writing.
Mistake 1 – It’s Characters And Not Story Line That Matters – In the beginning when I was starting off I assumed the first place to begin writing a book fiction book was working on my story line first. Once I had the story line in place it was only a matter of just slotting my characters in and then writing my story. I found out to my frustration that it’s actually the other way around.
When we read fiction we want to get into the lives of the characters in the book and watch how they react to the situation that they’re in. We want to see that character overcome their weakness, their phobias, or handicaps and triumph over them by the end of the book.
Because of that you’re going to need to create a character that has a weakness, that has something they need to overcome. That journey is the backbone of the story line of your book. Once you know what that is, you’ve got to put them in situations where they have to face those problems, again and again through your piece. Like a rough diamond before it’s cut, it’s this chipping away that keeps us reading to see the finished diamond at the end.
Mistake 2 – Know Your Characters – A good story with weak characters will only get you so far, whereas a weak story with strong characters will be long remembered after the book is closed. Think about any TV show or movie that you liked, and I know you liked it because of the characters in it. Take for example, the characters in the original Star Wars movie, those characters were so strong that they’ve now gone on to have their own spin-off movies.
If you want to write good fiction, you need to write good characters. This means creating a character that is so believable that they jump off the page. That means looking into every detail of your character, their size, weight, handicaps, upbringing, and their beliefs. Each of which, like you, make them the person that they are. And because you know exactly who they are, what they believe, and what they will do in any situation. Which makes it easier to write your book.
But once you know that character, don’t force them to do something they wouldn’t. You’ve probably seen evidence of this yourself in a poorly written movie. When suddenly a character that we assume to know well, suddenly does something ‘out of character.’
For example in the Matrix trilogy movies, the main character Neo is hell bent on destroying the hold the machines have over humanity. And yet at the end of the third movie, he honors a truce between man and machine. So all of a sudden, everything he believed up to this point was tossed aside so the writer could bring the movie to a close. Not only was this poor writing, but to me, the whole series was ruined because of it. Don’t do it. If your character hates the color purple, don’t have him proudly wearing a purple t-shirt unless there’s a good reason for it.
Mistake 3 – Give The Same Attention To Your Anti Hero – I read somewhere that to make your character a great character they need to go up against a great enemy. And it’s true. Take for example, the farm boy in Star Wars who had to stand up and face Darth Vader. Would we have followed as closely along with Luke’s story if he had the beating of Darth Vader already in him? No. It was because he didn’t stand a chance, and his enemy was so powerful, that kept us glued to that movie. We watched with bated breath to see how he ‘who came from nothing’ could stand up to this great Jedi master.
And so it will be with your fiction writing. To make your character great, you’re going to need to put them up against a character that’s much stronger and more powerful than they are. By doing so, we’re going to see them to dip into the reserve of who they are as they have to work to overcome their foe. Give as much attention to your anti hero as your hero, the more work you put in here, the better your main character will be, and the better your story will be.
Finally, while there are many mistakes when fiction writing, working on these three help put your work on a strong foundation. Once you’ve got that, you’re well on the way to creating a great book. If you’d like to know more about creating characters, I recommend you pick up my course over at http://fictionalcharacterbuilding.com/