As a writer I fall deeply in love with my main characters. I care about them, fight with them, argue with them in elevators. We all do...right? Right, guys?
Okay, maybe its just me. But regardless of whether or not I may have issues. The fact remains that as authors, we need to be invested emotionally in our characters because if we aren't absolutely enthralled...why would our readers care?
In my experience, though, its hard to care about someone if you don't understand them.
So, every time I write a book I take time after I've already written a few chapters to really get a feel for what kind of person my hero is because even after planning and outlines and character sketches...you really can't see him until he's moving in front of your eyes as you write him.
First I have to decide if he's a hero or an anti-hero. This is the main hurdle because it will inform his decisions and even how he appears to some extent.
So, I ask myself a series of questions to better clarify if my main man is a Classic Hero or a Dark Hero...
Classic or Dark
- Is he an idealist who stands up to bad guys or is does he stand up to any authority figure no matter the reason?
- Does he strive for peace and value hierarchy or is he rebellious?
- Is he clear in his decision act or is he pushed into acting by circumstances?
- Does he know his weaknesses and hopes to overcome them or does he believe they are justified?
- Does he learn from his mistakes and changes fundamentally or does he remain a rogue or self interested?
- Is he lawful or even a law authority or is he more of an 'end justifies the means' kind of guy?
- Is he a knight in shining armor or more of a fallen angel sort of figure?
- Is he steadfast in who he is or is he unpredictable?
- Do his morals hold to conventional norms or does he have a fluid idea of right and wrong?
- Finally, what is his motivation? Is he good from the get go or does he eventually come around, but not until the very end?
Whether Classic or Dark, heroes need to be complex. One of the hardest things to care about is someone who is unalienable, perfect, and predictable.
Think of your favorite super hero and then decide what category they fall under. Then figure out why you are drawn to that type of character. You may find it surprising to see the same archetypes in your own work.
So think about it...Are you more Captain America or Iron Man...Stephan or Damon...
I'd love to hear what you come up with. Until next time...Go Write!