how i add layers to my characters.
Characters are what build your story, I believe that they’re just as important as the plot. Boring characters will kill your story just as much as a garbage plot. So I find myself trying to develop the most interesting characters possible, below are a couple of ways I do that.
Names are a great way to add depth to your characters. It’s easy to choose basic names that you just happen to like the sound of. Here is how I name my characters, I choose something critical to the story of their character, and find a name meaning that thing. For example, in a short story I’m writing, the protagonist is full of suffering, so I found a name that means ‘victim’ or ‘suffering’. So I searched around for a little bit, and named him Job. If you weren’t raised in a Christian house hold, Job is a character in the Bible who goes through unimaginable suffering.
The other way I name characters is my translating one of their traits, or a way they impact the story, into Latin or Greek. Or really any language, it doesn’t matter to much. For another example, the antagonist in my story is making my protagonist dangerously paranoid, so I translated anxious into Latin, which is Sollicitus.
The other, much more important, way I focus on trying to add depth to my characters is backstory. I try to think through at least a basic outline of their past, and I try to find the legitimate ways my characters would react to the situation. Let me outline Job’s past so that you can get an idea of what I’m talking about.
Job was born to a mother who didn’t want him, so she left him and his dad as soon as he was born. His dad was always working, doing his best to support Job. As Job grew older he fell in with the wrong crowd, and became addicted to drugs to try to blot out pain from his past and current life. When his dad found out, he sent Job to a rehab center, where Job developed anger towards his father. When he got out of rehab, he moved in with some of his bad friends, started to use drugs again, and got a job at the Zoo to pay his part of the rent.
These unfortunate things that happened to him before the story takes place are all things that make him insecure. The drugs he takes are to try to fill a hole in his heart. This makes him a perfect target for Sollicitus. How would Job react when this character promises him happiness and gives him temporary comfort? He would accept him with open arms, thinking that he could be happy with Sollicitus in his life. That’s just an example of how I add depth in this way, though you can go a lot deeper with it.
And those are two ways I add layers to my characters! I hope that you can take these tips and apply them to your writing, and hopefully improve. If you are interested, Sollicitus will be coming to this blog within the next month!