One person in the literary world who I have always been inspired by is Roger Wolfson, the Tv scriptwriter who has touched some of the biggest legal TV shows in the US. Each time that I see Roger interviewed he talks about how important characters are in a story, and this is something which I have always kept in mind whenever I write. Whilst to n the face of it this sounds like a very easy conclusion to draw, the reality is much different and many writers get this very wrong indeed.
When people discuss the importance of the characters, they are talking about how they are the most important, not simply that they are important. If you are writing a story then here is why you should rely so much focus on characters.
Many will say that the storyline is the most important part of the story, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Of course this is the guiding light throughout the plot but you cannot put every single type of character in the same type of storyline, because at some point it just won’t add up. It is the character and the content of those characters that will dictate whether or not the storyline makes sense, and that is why you hear people saying that it is the characters which drive the story, and not the other way around.
The main reason why writers should spend so much time on character development is because they are going to want to know everything about the character in order to decide whether or not what is happening is actually believable. The difference between a good character and a poorly thought out character is like the difference between a telenovela and an Emmy award wining TV show. At least with a telenovela you expect characters to act out of character and do shocking things, in a story this is not the way and you have to give each of those characters a reason to be. Ask yourself why a character is here, what are they looking for, where are they going and why? If you can’t understand this about the characters then you cannot expect the reader or the viewer to be able to.
Readers and viewers relate to stories for two reasons, either because they have been through what is being discussed in the tale, or because one of the characters resonates with them. We either see something of ourselves in characters or we wish to be like them, and both of those reasons keep us turning the page. This is why characters and character development is so vital to a great story and with it you can keep readers and viewers in suspense, and with a passion to see the outcome of what happened with their favorite character.
Before you even start to write your story, it makes sense to focus on which characters are in it, and what their motivations are.