Sunday, November 6, 2011

Writing Tip #4

Skipped a day because of work, but let's get one of these down before I fall super behind! Also, I realize that so far, these are more "Character Development Tips" than "Writing Tips," but I'll get to more general things later. As I've said in the past, character development is the most important part to me. For those of you doing NaNoWriMo, good luck getting to 50,000 words if your characters all lack depth.

For this example, I'll be using two characters who have very little in common. I've used Dante in several other examples, so I'll use him here as well. He's straight-forward, quick-witted, and very sensitive to the needs of those around him. The next character is Valdius, the main character in my NaNo novel. Valdius is the Grim Reaper. He's trapped, alone, and detached. Both characters are highly skilled in certain areas and completely hopeless in others.

Tip #4: Use the 7 Deadly Sins to Create Conflict

Most things we humans consider bad or sinful can be labeled as one of the infamous 7 Deadly Sins. For writers, they make some good springboards. Think of how each would impact your character, if at all. It's a good way to see your character's strengths and weaknesses, and also see if they're well-balanced. Characters who have no weaknesses aren't particularly interesting, and neither are characters who are weak to everything in existence.

Dante is pretty good at controlling his anger. Losing control would put him in a very bad position in most cases. Piss off Valdius, however, and you can be prepared to face an army of demons. Dante goes about revenge in a very cautious, opportunistic manner to ensure his success without putting too much at stake. Valdius will kill anyone who gets in his way, regardless of how much danger he is in.

Dante rarely - if ever - makes the first move in a relationship. This is an area in which he is very shy and very respectful of the other person involved. Valdius will go out of his way to protect a woman he barely knows, even while it is very unlikely they would ever be together. He is also not afraid to break a few dozen rules and guidelines while pursuing that woman.

Dante has very little interest in the possessions and skills of others. Valdius would give anything to be human.

Both Dante and Valdius live in situations where possessions and wealth are meaningless. Both have the potential to amass followers, but neither is interested in power, either.

Dante overindulges in alcohol to remove his stress. It doesn't matter to him how much he takes into his system, as long as it helps him sleep at night. Valdius has no physical need for food and drink. There is also nothing he does simply for the joy of doing it in excess.

Dante is very confident in his abilities, but not to a fault. He knows when he will be outmatched and when he lacks the necessary skills. Valdius knows he means nothing to his master, and he is well aware that he will be punished if he is caught breaking rules.

Neither Dante nor Valdius is lazy. Both are extremely motivated to keep busy, Dante because of his friends, and Valdius because of the fear of punishment.

So there. Applying these things to your own characters can help outline their ideals and motivations and such. Happy sinning!

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