This post originally appeared as a guest blog at OwlReviewaBook.
BE A JERK AND YOUR CHARACTERS WILL THANK YOU FOR IT
Bethany asked me to write a little something about character development, so here I am attempting to write a little something about character development.
There’s one major problem.
I honestly don’t know anything about character development.
Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating just a little bit for the sake of comedy.
The truth is that I don’t know anything that I’m supposed to know about character development. Plus, I’ve always found it a bit weird for me when someone asks me to write about the “craft” of anything.
The only real “craft” I have any right lecturing on is Kraft Macaroni and Cheese – which happens to be the only food in existence with a taste wholly dependant on your mood. If you’re depressed it’s awesome. If you’re happy, it’ll make you depressed.
That should be their slogan.
The only real bit of advice I can offer up when it comes to your characters is this: Be a jerk.
As a writer you’re in control of every aspect of your character’s lives and it’s pretty safe to assume that you feel a certain love for them. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s great actually. You should love them. If you don’t love them, the fact that you’re going to spend endless hours and upwards of a 100,000 words writing about them would just be silly.
A problem arises when you love them so much that you start treating them the way you want them to be treated, rather than the way they need to be treated.
If it makes sense for them to get hurt, be prepared to hurt them. If they have to die to get across your point, I suggest you find yourself a sturdy tree and pull out the hangman’s noose.
Remember that great story where everything always worked out for everyone and everything was fantastic all of the time?
That’s because it doesn’t exist.
You can’t be a good friend to your characters. You have to be a terrible friend. It’s a necessity of the relationship. At some point you’re going to make them hurt. You’re going to drag them through the mud and make them cry. You’re going to take them to the lowest of lows and just when they think you’re done hurting them, you’ll slap on some more.
It’s for their own good.
It has to be done and you’re the heartless jerk that has to do it.
In my opinion the love you feel for the characters you create has be a tough love. Anything else is a detriment to your story. It does them an injustice, it does you an injustice, and it does the term injustice, injustice.
That last part didn’t make any sense.
Ignore the fact that I typed it.
Love your characters and love your story enough to be the jerk they need you to be.
Wow, that almost sounded like I knew what I was talking about – a little bit anyway. And I wasn’t even ruminating on the pros and cons of Velveeta Shells and Cheese as opposed to Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
Don’t even get me started on that battle of the unhealthy titans.
We’d be here for hours.