Adding Depth to a Character

Posted by   Luke   |   Categories :   Education

As a writer, you have your challenges. Novels don’t just pour from your brain onto the computer screen. Of course, I do go on jags where I get inspired and a couple of chapters seem to flow naturally. Then you go back and make the characters more realistic as you flesh out the plot. You read your notes, you fabricate incidents, and you make it plausible for readers to accept. Unless you are writing science fiction or fantasy. These genres have different requirements. I love researching about people to add flavor to my own characters. I decided to make one of them a woodworker so that he would have an artistic side. The details of a book are what make it authentic so I delved into articles on tools and types of craft wood. I learned some terminology and even came up with a particular project for the character to work on. Then I would incorporate this into the plot, perhaps a murder mystery or a romance.

Woodworking is a very skilled proposition. You must apprentice with a master to learn your craft. The tools are tricky. You have to explain to readers about turning tools, cutters, scrapers and gouges. To make it more real for me as the writer I visited a woodworking shop called and was allowed to try my hand at various implements. I can’t say that I got good results, but I did learn enough to expand the depth of my central character. I had a good sense of the ambiance of a workshop. I could now describe the various kinds of wood lying about and the finished examples of beautiful crafts made for sale. The question is whether a murder would take place in the shop or with a wood implement.

After much reflection, I fixated on a table leg that was solid wood and thus rather heavy. It was a great way to conk the victim on the head and do him in. I am not trying to be funny. Many murder mysteries use things in the environment that are simply close at hand. The murder can be impromptu or premeditated. I had to decide. Now the issue was whether the woodworker was to be the killer or the slain. Then I would add a colorful twist—some telltale blood so that the perpetrator could be caught. I was having fun concocting all the ins and outs of the murder plot. I was proud of one chapter that described the woodworker at his craft in colorful detail. I wanted readers to feel that they were really there. Good descriptions and actions can make or break the plot. They create the context that holds everything together. The mark of a great writer is to create visual images that bring the story alive. You also want an interesting character that others will care about. You will root for the protagonist or wish him ill depending upon how he is positioned. I hope you will enjoy my new masterpiece.

June 22, 2017