Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Being mean to your characters.

Being mean to your characters.

Once upon a time there was this lady and everything possibly nice happened to her. She met a guy and they fell in love, and they lived happily ever after.

*yawn* Boring...

As a writer, your characters can become your friends, family, children, but just because they feel close to you does not mean you need to be sickeningly nice to them. A story where everything goes right for the characters is boring.

Let's take Hamlet for instance. (If you don't know Hamlet, go read it right now... no seriously... go do it... I'm waiting...)

Our major characters are:

King Hamlet- Hamlet's Dad
Claudius- Hamlet's Uncle
Gertrude- Hamlet's Mom
Polonius- Hamlet's Girlfriend's Dad
Ophelia- Hamlet's Girlfriend
Laertes- Hamlet's Girlfriend Brother

If you don't really know the story of Hamlet, but have seen the movie “The Lion King,” same thing.

OK, so what if Shakespeare had been nice to Hamlet.

King Hamlet never dies and they all live happily ever after.

The ghost never turns up to tell Hamlet that Claudius killed King Hamlet, therefore never torturing Hamlet into acting mad and finding out the truth.

Hamlet never acted mad therefore Ophelia never went off and “got thee to a nunery” and drowned. Also upset her dad died.

Hamlet never stabbed Polonius.


All the complications given to the characters, whether through their own actions or outside forces are interesting. If everything nice happens to them then it is boring.

The question the audience would have, would be “why am I reading this?”

I have to warn about just using outside forces to affect the characters as that can be perceived as bad too, as why does only bad things happen to this character? This is a major problem that people have with the books of the Twilight series, as bad things just seem to happen to Bella, and she doesn't cause them, etc. Making the story boring. (Note: This is an example only, and something I've noticed from reviews of Twilight I have seen.)

When I'm writing, I like to think to myself, "Am I being too nice?" 

If I find a boring patch, I make something bad happen.  Keeps things interesting.

Next Up- Ways to Come Up With Characters

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