When we write characters, we have to get inside their heads. We have to know what makes them tick, how they see the world, and all sorts of things about how they’d react to certain situations.
I actually kind of talked this post out to myself on a video before I wrote it, and I realized that this isn’t going to be a post about how to get into a character’s eyes, like I thought it was, but rather sort of a post about how you know that your character is well-developed, because a well-developed character will kind of develop his own voice and you’ll kind of just slide into his mind when you need to.
There have been three characters in particular who I have really enjoyed writing or been surprised at my ability to write because they’re so different from me and have such different voices from me. The first of those is Rynn Aryon.
Rynn is the princess of a currently-unnamed country who wants to work to protect her country from the encroaching Vollak. Vollak are basically like werewolves. Rynn wants to protect people from these monsters because no one else really is. They’re kind of just watching as these Vollak kill citizens of their country, and those who do care can’t really do much about it. So Rynn disguises herself and goes to take control of the army and get their rears in gear. Now, Rynn is very sassy. She’s quite possibly my sassiest character. She always has a response for anything thrown at her, and she’s extremely quick-witted. I, on the other hand, am not really one of those people. Occasionally I’ll think of a good comeback in time to use it, but most of the time I don’t think of responses to things until five years later. This is why it surprised me when I started writing Rynn and her sass just flowed off my fingertips onto the screen. I could come up with comebacks as fast as Rynn could, and it was a really interesting experience because it’s very unlike me.
Rynn is the only example I can think of of a character who is so different from me it surprised me I could write them, but there have been a couple of characters whose perception of the world has really fascinated me and who have been really interesting to write and see interact with other characters and with the world around them.
One of my favorite characters to write, probably, is Cordain Celebar. He’s one of the three main characters of The Heart of the Baenor. He’s an elf, so he was raised in a rural area with good morals and a strong faith in God. Because of this, he sees everything as pointing to God and as a beautiful creation, and he basically sees the whole world through rose-colored glasses. This gives him a measure of naivety, but it’s also crucial in his interactions with other characters.
A similar case to Cordain is Quentin/Pellan Shyle (I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep his original name or change it). He was raised in Cron Hatal, the capital of Kaloris. I’m not entirely sure yet what led to his worldview, but he pays great attention to detail. He believes that details are extremely important because they’re what make up the whole. He records details about everything in a thick, leather-bound journal, which Catessa (the main character) finds strange because she pays attention to larger things and things that directly affect her, not details. She doesn’t find details all that important, so she doesn’t understand Quentin/Pellan’s fascination with them.
It’s always interesting when you’re able to easily get into a character’s head, and I consider it a trait of a well-developed character, at least when that character is one that is very different from you. If you can easily write a character who is opposite of you, you’ve aced the development of that character.