Monday, September 13, 2010

Character Development - Empathy

Character Development seems to be an ongoing project for me. I don't think it will ever stop. I have a character in my novel who starts out one way and eventually through several books I plan on having him change a little. He will eventually soften. Anyone who has read Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels will understand this. Throughout the books one character seems to genuinely change. I would love to portray this character in my books as well as she has in hers.

As of now I have a character sheet filled out for each and every character that pops up as more than a simple mention. I still have yet to complete these character sheets. I feel that for an author I should know my characters inside and out. Even if I never mention that Character J loves the colors red and black I still should know this. Maybe it can be portrayed in the color of clothing Character J wears or the hat that sits upon his head is always red and black.

Creating a character that shows empathy is the main ingredient according to Robert McKee in Story. After reading his book I agree entirely. If my protagonist does not show empathy then the reader will not be sucked in. However, if I show that she wavers from indecision or that she feels bad for someone or true pain, then my readers will enjoy the book all the more. It makes sense that she would feel frustration at having a soda spilled on her by the snobbiest girl in school. Yet saying that isn't enough. I need to show that she is humiliated and embarrassed. I have to show her way of dealing with it and that of her friends that watch the scene play out in front of them.

I must create a connection between my protagonist and the reader. I know when I read I love the characters that I immediately feel for. I have tried to do this in my novel. In the very first chapter she suffers a great loss and immediately does something I feel that myself as a reader would agree with. She acts through her emotions rather than a level head. It's her friend that brings her back to reality and insists she needs to breathe and relax.

Hopefully I have done my job at creating an empathetic protagonist.

Till next time have a beautiful day!

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