multi-faceted characters

I’ve been thinking a lot about characters in novels, not only in how they’re portrayed throughout their story, but with the expectations placed upon them.

The way I see it, there are four major areas for a writer to keep in mind while developing a character: physical, emotional, character arc, and, of course, the readers’ expectations. All four are intertwined. If you attempted to untangle the threads of your favorite character’s traits, you’d destroy the being you’ve grown to love (or love to hate).

Take, for example, Sookie Stackhouse (who I’m obsessed with at the moment and devouring daily while I race through the series by Charlaine Harris). She’s a blond bombshell suffering with telepathy. Physically, she’s the Harlequin model that we all roll our eyes about, disgusted by the main character’s stereotypical beauty. But her “disability” brings her back down to the average readers’ level. It sets her apart, gives her insecurities to overcome, and it gives her a reason to stay involved in the fantastic world inhabited by Supes (a.k.a. Supernaturals). She’s not afraid to holler for help when she needs it, but she still manages to get her butt whooped at least once a week because she refuses to back down when someone else needs her help. The vampires love her. The werewolves want to mate with her. I’m guessing the witches want her pretty bad, too. Sookie respects herself, and yet regularly learns something about herself and manages to stay positive despite the bad things that befell her as a girl and the deadly circumstances she (continuously) finds herself in with each new book.

I’m still mulling over the various faces of characters. We’re not two- or three-faced, so why do so many of our characters turn out that way when we write them? As a reader, what do you look for in new characters? As a writer, how do you round out your characters for the reader?

The most interesting people I know have varied interests, talents, and insights. Let’s figure out a way to do the same for those living in our heads. They’ll thank us for it.

(btw, isn’t the pic fantastic?? i can’t stop studying it. love the colors. the story in the eyes. well done.)

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