Building a hero / heroine from the ground up
– What makes a reader fall in love with a character?
– How can we create these types of characters ourselves?
– How to create deep compelling characters that stick with a reader.
- Offer a view into the characters and his world that is both compelling and addictive
- Provide experiences that are new, yet rooted in real human experience
- A powerful bond that forms when the character’s experiences triggers the reader’s own emotional memories
4 elements to reinforce empathy and fascination
- Emotional connection
- Very important to know character well enough
- characters need to have same flaws, interests emotions etc that real people have
- must believe that our character is worthy
- lifeblood of story – how can we resonate emotions throughout everything we do
Building a compelling character
Think outside the box
Step 1: Grounding the character in the real world
This has 4 components
i. Human needs:
Self actualisation – achieving personal growth, wanting to accomplish goals and reach one’s full potential
Esteem – feeling respected and valued, and having self confidence & self-esteem (not feeling valued causes disruption)
Love & belonging – acceptance and a sense of intimacy with friends, family and groups
Safety & security – personal and financial security, health and wellbeing, protection from illness
Physiological – food water, clothing shelter, sex and reproduction
When a character is dissatisfied, feels incomplete – one of these needs is missing in their life.
- Character starts dissatisfied – who they are at the start of the story is incomplete in some way
- Character that has everything, is completely satisfied – something happens, story takes one / some of those things away
ii. Universal desire for self growth
- What behaviours does character want to get rid of?
- What fears do they want to face?
- What negative aspects of themselves to they want to deal with?
The journey for self-improvement is universal
Self-growth is tied to happiness and satisfaction
Every victory leads to increase confidence and belief in oneself
iii. Worthy goals
Goals that resonate with readers – ask WHY
- Does it fulfil a universal human need?
- Is it logical and attainable?
- Will this goal remind readers of their own needs and desires?
- Is there an emotional attachment to this goal?
- What’s at stake? What happens if the character does not succeed?
iv. Common worries and fears: The power of inner turmoil
Anchor your character in the reader’s mind through real-world worries, insecurities and fears
Step 2: strengths readers admire
- Moral traits and convictions
- Strengths that have impact
- Attributes that tell a story
Backstory is not the F world
Instead it allows authors to:
- Use the character’s motivation to give stronger purpose to each action, decision and choice
- Apply a deeper meaning to the story events by infusing specific symbolism tied to the character’s past
- Understand which pressure points will push the character toward change (character arc) no matter how much pain they must endure
How positive attributes form:
- Mentors, healthy role models and other people who teach the character core values, encourage exploration and foster self-growth
Uplifting experiences and worldly exposure
- Esteem-building interaction with others
- Lessons derived from seeing the world in motion in positive ways
- Discovering one’s role and responsibilities within one’s family, community and society
- Navigating a difficult situation in a health manner
- Events (positive and negative) that offer insight into oneself and what is important
- Overcoming past emotional wounds
- Right and wrong, ethics and deeply embedded beliefs determine attributes
- Centre of who character is
- Some come into conflict – eg kindness vs honesty
- Traits assist the character in achieving important life goals
- Traits which help character work with others, handle conflict, convey ideas and forge healthy relationships
- Personal sense of identity allowing the character to explore what makes him unique
Hero’s greatest strength and impact on character arc
An important question to ask:
- What specific positive trait will help your hero or heroine overcome their biggest obstacles
Hints to uncover this attribute:
- Often your character’s greatest strength is mistaken for a weakness
- Internal growth during Character Arc allows him to see it for what it is: an asset
- This attribute my be akin to a muscles that has not been flexed in a long time, and so the character must work to master it
- This attribute is stronger than the character’s biggest flaw, but only if he or she learns to embrace it fully
- (must face wound in the past to allow them to move forward and embrace attribute)