Your character’s back story is their history and life prior to your jumping in point for this story. I’m going to be writing about how much back story you should give to your characters, how much you should make present in your plot, and how much you should pre-prepare rather than find out and fill in along the way according to what is useful to the story and character as you go.
If you’re writing a book or script where there is risk or peril, and you want your audience to believe in it and feel tense during scenes with fights or danger, you need to be willing to kill your main characters. But killing them needs to be done in a way that actually causes the sense of tension you need your audience to feel.
When you’re writing a story, it’s obviously important to make sure your Protagonist is well motivated. However, if your Antagonist isn’t motivated equally, and exists solely to disrupt life for your Protagonist, your story will lack depth. Considering your Antagonist to be the Protagonist in their own story will mean you make your Antagonist an interesting and complex character, which in turn will improve the quality of your story.
When you write a story, quite often you’ll find that you will write your Protagonist to be an essentially “perfect” human. They don’t make mistakes, they don’t make bad decisions, they don’t do things wrong. Your Protagonist will interact with bad people and flawed people surrounding them, but they themselves are flawless. The problem is, if your main character is perfect, they’ll be boring, and they’ll be unrelatable.
I’m going to be writing about the dialogue style of the writer Aaron Sorkin. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, he’s an American writer known for screenwriting TV shows such as The West Wing and The Newsroom, and films such as The Social Network and A Few Good Men. He also wrote stage adaptations such as To Kill A Mockingbird and A Few Good Men, which went to Broadway. Aaron Sorkin is an exceptional writer in all ways, and worth studying in general, but today I’m going to be focusing on the way he writes dialogue.
Causing your audience to have a strong emotional connection to your story, even to the point of being moved to tears, is how you make a story stick with them well after they’ve finished your book. Nobody remembers the story that they had no feelings about, it’s the stories that impacted us on an emotional level that we hold in our hearts. But how do you do it?
When you are writing your story, you might find that you get to a point where you realise it would really suit the story for one of your characters to do something that’s really convenient for your story, but completely out of character for that person. I’ll be talking about how and why we arc our characters, and the differences between arcing and breaking them.
If you’re a new writer, it’s quite easy to fall into the trap of making all your characters be different versions of yourself. They might look different and have different goals, but their personalities blur into one another and their speech patterns are identical, so it ends up reading like you’re having conversations with yourself.
If you are writing in the fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, or sci-fi genres, you’re going to be writing scenarios for your characters that are, technically, unbelievable. In reality, people don’t believe that the White House is going to be blown up by aliens or that witches and wizards are being trained in magic in a big school, yet we are able to believe it in the story because of how it’s written.
Tracking your character’s emotional state is an essential part of continuity when it comes to your character’s arc. When your character experiences emotions, you need to make sure you carry the ramifications of that with them into the subsequent scenes.