Creating Extraordinary Characters –– Part VIII

demystified sawyerWe’ve been looking at different tools to help build character natures, dispositions, and temperament. Another is Conflict. Using conflict within your characters will create extraordinary situations, responses, and ultimately, characters. Click to Tweet #amwriting #characters

In his book, Fiction Writing Demystified, Tom Sawyer (yes, that’s his real name), says that using and focusing on conflict in your characters will make them tell their story.

What kind of conflicts? First, start with the character’s primary goal in life. “Getting them there should be fraught with problems. Enemies, doubters, physical or mental limitations (both emotional and capacity-wise), conflicting responsibilities, bad weather.” That should get your creative juices flowing.

Other questions to ask in order to create conflicts in characters: What do they need in order to get where they need to go? What do they want? Who or what is trying to prevent them from achieving this need, goal, or want?

“Drama is people in conflict––characters in conflict––with each other or with their situations or environments.”

conflict in stoneAlso, endow your characters with the things that irk and aggravate you. Sawyer lists a bunch of them: “transient, nit-picky irritations, a pebble in your shoe, embarrassing things, a non-functioning appliance, forgetting a name, etc.”

Throw in some dissatisfactions with how the character perceives their appearance. For instance, I grew up hating my hair color. I was a redhead in a sea of blondes and brunettes. Where I grew up, red hair was an anomaly. Here in the eastern U.S., I feel much more at home. There are many more redheads around me than where I grew up. Maybe your nose irritates you, your body shape, a short fuse, insecurity, perfectionism, etc. These and many more help create internal conflicts within the character themselves.

“…think in terms of conflict. To frame your ideas in terms of conflict. And––to create your characters in terms of their conflicts.” Click to Tweet #amwriting #characters What gets in their way? That is the stuff of conflict.

What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.

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