You would think that one of the best parts about writing would be getting to know your characters on a personal level. But ths isn't always true. Have you ever written about a character and the further you delved into the story, the less you began to like them? Has it ever seemed as though if you were to change any one thing about this character, even if it was something that you didn't like, that it simply wouldn't make them who they are?

I've been fortunate not to run into too many of these types of characters in question, but it does happen every now and then. I was thinking on it today as I was reevaluating a story I had begun in the past but never completed. I had told myself that I hadn't finshed it because I didn't know where to take the story next, but as I was reading over it, I realized that the real cause of my having cast this story aside was because I really just didn't like my antagonist. To be fair, I really can't dislike him too much. After all, I was the one who created him. I decided to take a step back and observe him from a distance.

What exactly was it about this character that I didn't like? I had made him extremely good-looking to my standards and preferences. He was a bit of a bad seed, which is also something I appreciate in a male character. And he played his part nicely, right up until I left him in writing limbo. So what was it about him that made me unhappy?

This might sound crazy, but I decided to have a conversation with him. Yes, this was a made-up conversation in my head to which I was receiving responses from a fictional character. Surprisingly, he cleared some things up for me and I was able to delve a bit deeper into his past to see what made him the way he is presently. And now? Maybe he's not so bad.

I feel that getting to know your characters is an important part of making your story work. Understandng WHY your character is the way he is can help you see which direction you want your story to go by allowing you to explore some goals and achievements you would like to see him accomplish. It can also provide some useful backstory. I've read that character sketches can be a practical way to find out what makes your character unique, what makes them tick. And just like any other relationship, getting to know your character can help the story you build together run smoother. 

Published by Angie Birk