Crafting Memorable Characters

Most of us dream of creating a character that leaves an indelible impression on our readers.

A memorable character will be somebody created out of the norm, out of the uninteresting. At the same time, the author provided a personage that retained realism and credibility. Most writers take real-life individuals and fit them into a fictional setting. Some are great observers of human behavior and create characters from that knowledge.

The information that follows will help you develop memorable characters that have a realism your reader can embrace. It has to do with the concept of universal social style.

A scientific study explains the basic concept of social style:

1. Individual behavior repeats itself consistently. We are “creatures of habit”.

2. Our perception of individuals is immediate and is based on observation.

3. The two factors people assess others by are:

        Assertiveness – the perceived degree we try to control others

        Responsiveness – the perceived degree we show our emotions to others

4. Combination of these factors produced four defined and consistent characteristics, which are called Social Styles: Amiables, Analyticals, Drivers, and Expressives.

5. Contrasting styles create tension between individuals. The farther apart the individuals’ social styles, the more likely they’ll have relationship problems and even are likely to develop antagonistic feelings toward each other.

Characteristics of different social styles:

Amiable: “I feel…” – Friendly – Goes with the flow – Trusting – Agreeable – Accommodating

Expressive: “I want…” – Enthusiastic – interacts well with people – Spontaneous – Talkative

Analytical: “I think…” – Reserved – Attentive to details – Logical – Accurate

Driver: “I will…” – Pushy – Leads, generates ideas – Competitive – Self-reliant

If we know and can describe the combination of traits that make a person notable, what creates tension between them and others, and what they will and will not due under certain circumstances, AND this corresponds with reality, we have the basis for creating truly memorable characters.

Some things we can do using social styles to mold characters:

  • We can tell how they may dress
  • We can envision what they may or may not say
  • We can determine what professions they might engage in
  • We can tell how they react to stress
  • We can tell how they’d interact to others and the depth of their relationships
  • We can tell how others are likely to react to them
  • We can tell how they’d behave in a story situation
  • We can tell how they’d react to an individual with a similar or contrasting style

 

Source of information: “Crafting your fictional characters with a factual scientific assist” workshop, D.L. Havlin – http://www.dlhavlin.com

Full presentation about social styles: http://www.softed.com/resources/Docs/SSW0.4.pdf

 

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Virginia Victorio
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