Character development: an important aspect in storytelling

Character development: an important aspect in storytelling

writing 4 cArdain Isma

Character development is an important aspect in storytelling. There are two main ways you can tell a story in novelistic prose: plot-driven and character-driven. In Midnight at Noon, the story is being told through three voices: Olivier Zebeda, the revolutionary hero, the fictional Che, who effectively takes command, leading a revolutionary war against Ti-Jean, a Haitian president, who is the prime villain. Then, you have Odilon Joseph, the character who embodies the existential realities of those who live in abject poverty. While Ti’Jean’s cruelty and Zebeda’s passion for justice constitute the two sharply drawn, antagonistic forces that will move the plot to its highest plateau, Odilon, the down-to-earth character to whom every reader would relate, will lead the story to the finished line.

In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ The General and his Labyrinth, a strong character is developed in the persona of Simon Bolivar, the South American hero who will ultimately liberate his country from Spanish colonialism. The general is the driver, leading the readers to, sometimes, unchartered territories. He is omnipresent, and that’s character-driven—my preferred choice of storytelling.

In the art of creative writing, for it to be well-storied, the characters MUST seem and feel real. Creating surreal, unrealistic characters may cause a story to fall flat. But how do you put forward well-crafted characters? While character development seems overwhelming, there are some easy steps you can take to make this process as painless as possible.  You must:

  1. Give them a goal, a sense of purpose if you will.
  2. Take your time to craft their motivation, their passion, their loves (What energizes them to get up in the morning and be ready to fight for what they believe in?)
  3. Describe their desires, their fear, their flaws like everyone of us.
  4. Draw your plan before you start writing like architects do for home-building projects. This will ultimately help you develop a good synopsis for your story.
  5. Don’t start writing before taking these crucial steps.

For more on this pertinent topic, you can click on these links: Well-storied and Natalia Leigh

Note: Ardain Isma is a novelist and editing manager at CSMS Magazine . He heads the Center for Strategic and Multicultural Studies. He also teaches Introduction to Research Methods at Embry Riddle University. To see his books, click here.

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