Casual Acquaintances … and so many more. In your fiction—as in life—you want to take those connections beyond the obvious. Think of the hero and his wisecracking sidekick, the frustrated housewife and the handsome neighbor, the befuddled father and his precocious child, the renegade cop and the stupid chief.
Image from Puuikibeach Before I write down one word, I have to have the character in my mind through and through. I must penetrate into the last wrinkle of his soul. I'm looking forward to this. I get these characters pretty well already, but I want to bring out the unexpected in them.
The things I don't know I know, or haven't thought of yet. And at the same time, I want to make sure that I have made the most out of each of them. Have you ever gone through this exercise? I haven't, not since school.
And I loved some of the insights it gave me. The character whose goal and transformation drives the story. Needs to be in trouble. Deep, dark, edge-of-our seats trouble, where something she desperately wants and needs is at stake.
Must have a weakness that may be her downfall. Thinks she wants or needs something at the start of the story that may not be what she finds she wants or needs by the time the story ends. Battles through obstacles that would have stopped her at the beginning of the story.
The character whose goal drives the conflict and push the protag toward transformation. Is not necessarily "a villain," and not even necessarily human or external to the protag.
Must have a redeeming quality that keeps him from being cardboard. May be the antag, or someone else--a best friend, sidekick, mentor, romantic lead, parent or virtually any other character who serves as an example or contrast.
Someone who likes things the way they are and opposes the protag when she wants to change that.
Can be an ally of either the protag or the antag, or a completely neutral party. Usually shows up before a turning point in the story.
Adds conflict to the story outside the main conflict with the antag by testing the protag or pushing her to solve a problem or puzzle, win a minor battle, make discoveries, or otherwise take action.
Creates growth and momentum to propel the story forward. May become a mentor once overcome by the protag. Can be someone who helps the protag win past a threshold guardian, or even a threshold guardian who has been overcome and is necessary to help win past the next threshold guardian.
Doesn't necessarily provide helpful help. Could be a foil who has fallen on hard times and resurrects for one last stand against the antag. Or she may be the foil who can't be brave enough when it comes to the showdown.
May oppose the protag for the same or an entirely different reason, but helps play into the antag's goals in some way. May be used knowingly or unwittingly by the antag.
Motives may be inherently good, or inherently evil. Used improperly, can lead to the introduction of characters the reader can't keep track of. Works best if can be introduced in a way that will be brought back and tied in to the story resolution in some way.
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Here we are for another collaborative blog post, this time on worldbuilding! Worldbuilding’s a personal weakness of mine – I tend to write stories first and then go back and enrich the world.