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How have you made your characters more realistic?

Forums Fiction Characters How have you made your characters more realistic?

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  • #145079
    katie02
    @katie02

    What are your favorite ways in which you’ve made your characters more life-like?

    One of my favorites has been brainstorming the character motivators for both the main protagonist and all the side characters. I’m super passionate about giving each side character their own backstory, motivations, personality type, quirks, list of traits in other characters that cause friction with who they are, and unique voice. Part of me has even thought about writing my current WIP (or at least the scenes wherein they appear) once each from every secondary character’s POV to keep them from becoming flat and of the essence of cardboard. 🙂 Probably a bad idea, but anyways.

    Also one question… is it weird to have a blind character (from a factory accident), a character with chronic pain, and a character with Down Syndrome all within a family of 7? Is that too much and pushing things past the realistic? I really, really want to, but I can’t decide if it’s a little overboard, lol. However, each of those things do contribute to the plot of my story and are not just there to be there, if you know what I mean.

    #145083
    Grace Benham
    @gbfruitbat

    @katie02 I also love making my side characters really complex!  Sometimes I want to write scenes from their point of view, and bet that would probably help me make my scenes more dynamic too.

    For your question, I’m no expert on writing or anything, but as a reader I feel like it would be fine as long as you can make it convincingly plausible.  It might seem a little weird, but also, weird unlucky coincidences do happen so…

    Also, I’m assuming it’s not fantasy because of those are real-world maladies (to use the fancy term).  But if it’s fantasy you could make them cursed or something.  Or one of those fantasy stories where stuff just is kind of unrealistic (because it’s not the real world anyway! XD). Anyway, I hope that was at least a little bit helpful!

    This is perhaps the greatest risk any of us will ever take: to be seen as we truly are.

    #145094
    katie02
    @katie02

    @gbfruitbat Yay, I’m not the only one! 🙂

    Thanks for your input! No, not fantasy, but historical fiction. I’m a history nerd, lol. My WIP begins in 1933, pre-war Berlin and follows the Nazi rise to power and then WW2 through the eyes of this family. Here’s kind of the synopsis of those 3 characters, and perhaps this will help you tell me if it’s convincingly plausible, if you care to read it. I’m trying to form a character arc for every character, their own journey of growth and change. Herr Kramer’s is not quite developed yet as you can see.

    Herr Kramer was blinded by a factory accident 9 years ago. However, God has gifted him with an incredible photographic memory, and he’s become a painter despite his blindness. After the war begins, the factory he used to work in is requisitioned for Germany’s armament production, and he’s hired by the German resistance (working with the British SOE) to draw from memory the interior of the factory as he knew it, as the SOE plans to destroy the factory. Of course, there’s a bit of suspense and fear revolving around the fact that he’s blind… what if he makes a mistake?

    Margarethe is a “useless” invalid – believing she can’t help with the things that really matter. She’s constantly comparing herself with others, knowing that she won’t ever be able to do the things they’re doing. She struggles with depression and distrust of God’s goodness. In her desperate efforts to somehow make a difference, she makes a horrible mistake. She decides to give up and waste her life away. But then, she learns to fix her eyes on a Hope that cannot fail (not a hope that possibly, maybe, someday she’ll be free from pain and ‘normal’, a hope that, time and again, disappoints and desponds her). But a Hope that holds her. One on whom she can rest for help, instead of always trying to be the one helping. This makes her confident through these lessons, even sometimes joyful. Of course, she still sometimes struggles – but she is a different Margarethe. That Hope in heaven is what carries her on. Then, her battles with the realities of pain help her minister to those hurt by the Reich’s regime. She learns that God uses useless people, that His strength is made perfect in weakness. That God is always working for His glory and her good, and that one is always leaving a sort of legacy, whether they mean to or not, and that she’s simply called to faithfulness, not doing great things.

    Sweet little Ilse, the daughter and sister who will forever be a child, is the heartbeat and life of the family. Ilse has a special place in the hearts of the entire family, but most of all in Jannike’s (the oldest daughter and main character). Jannike struggles with hatred against those who believe the sick or disabled, like Margarethe or Papa, are less deserving of life, and seek to harm and kill helpless, innocent ones like her Ilse. This hatred propels her into throwing heart, soul, and life into destroying the Nazi regime and all connected with it, a passion that puts her family at risk and threatens to tear apart their lives.

    Other family members include Frau Kramer, a protective, fear-driven mama who’s powerless to shield her children from the evil of the Nazi regime; Wilhelm, a former Nazi SS that is hounded by the guilt of what he’d done (although unwittingly) and can’t accept the free forgiveness of Christ without feeling like he must work for it; and Kurt, a rambunctious early teen whose whole world comes crashing in when his ideal is shot. Consumed with revenge and a hatred against anything and everything Nazi, Kurt begins to slip into communist ideology.

    #145103
    Grace Benham
    @gbfruitbat

    @katie02 that sounds really really cool (like a book I’d want to read)!  In my opinion, that sounds fine.  If I was reading it I doubt I’d question why there’s multiple people with different issues in the same family, especially since there’s a purpose for all of it anyway.  Alternatively, you could make it so they were more distantly related to each other or unrelated, but they’ve become family?  That would add some complications because you’d have to explain why…

    But as it is, I think it works.

    This is perhaps the greatest risk any of us will ever take: to be seen as we truly are.

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