Personality is about defining a character by traits, quirks, habits, and preferences. Because personality is such a vital part of our characters, I will be covering it in two parts, the first is differentiation of characters, the next will be build and balance.
We all have things that set us apart from others. We take power in individuality. Your characters are no different. The reason these small differences are so very important is because we tend to attract others like us. We write about familiarity, and more often than not, we write ourselves.
We then must consider our characters as real entities, separate from our own. While they may possess our sense of a trait, our habits, or our preferences, we have to create a space for them that is their own. One of my characters, August, possesses many similar traits to my own, such as optimism and a need to put others before ourselves. We are both hopeless romantics, and we both have a strong sense of justice. But August is hot tempered and lacks my compassion. He is neat, orderly, impossibly stubborn, confrontational, less sentimental, and much more brave than I know how to be.
I didn’t really think about our similarities or our differences until talking about them with a friend. I made him simply wanting to make him likable, relatable, and kind, but not soft. The rest my subconscious supplied, making him familiar for me and the most like me of all the characters, and thus the easiest to write. There is an ease and importance to familiarity, but in doses.
Something I generally like to avoid is having characters that are too similar. Though we may have many things in common with our friends, in quirks and mannerisms even, we still have differences. Much like us, our characters must stand on their own.
If I were to compare two of my characters, regardless of their similarities or bonds, I prefer they be more different than similar. Kaiden is serious and feels older than he is, where August is playful and and youthful. Kaiden is pessimistic and naive where August is optimistic but untrusting of most. They are both righteous men, with the best intentions and probably a little more than questionable morals. Their similarities may be the grounds for their friendship, but their differences are why their friendship remains.
Value the differences in your characters, find your balance. If there’s a common theme between characters, insure that they maintain their integrity by still being unique and different. Don’t limit yourself to “strong” characters, write interesting characters. Write characters that matter.
Until next week, my dears, when we talk about how to build a realistic and balanced character, keep that brain working, you’ll do great.
Cara Rowen is a Los Angeles artist, poet and writer working on her first novel entitled Dust. A hard working member of Soapbox International’s Danger Team, with a strong dedication to the arts and giving back to the community, she has interest in geek culture and humor, fashion, baking, and music. Cara Rowen is known for her fun, bubbly, and sarcastic personality.
Latest posts by Cara Rowen (see all)
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