Surprisingly, the post “We are unique!” was shared a lot. Someone even put it on Pinterest! Apparently people have trouble with creating a colorful cast of characters, and it’s easy to understand why. After all, we’re only one person, and we’re responsible for dozens, hundreds, even thousands. They all come out with a part of us inside them, and because of that, they tend to blend into one if we aren’t careful. So I covered a lot of basics with that post – stance, speech, clothing, etc., but this time I thought I’d talk about some other things that separate characters, things we tend to take for granted.
When you have a story where all the characters are fighting for the same goal, it’s easy for them to become a faceless army instead of a group of people with their own thoughts and feelings. There are a lot of things you need to pay attention to, and one of the biggest things here is Motive. WHY are your characters doing what they’re doing? They can’t all have the same reason. I’m going to use examples from my current NaNo on this one, because it’s a bunch of characters fighting for the same thing, but they all have different motives.
The goal: Beat the third level of the War Games and get to the top of Tokyo Tower for an illegal conversation with the Rulers.
The cast: Q, Chopper, Gummy, Deuce.
Q – he’s the one who began to ask questions in the first place, and his curiosity is turning out more dangerous than he anticipated. He needs to know why everyone around him has been hypnotized by their Life Games, even after people from the old world decided the idea was dangerous and a possible weapon of mass control. He’s curious, and he can’t rest until he gets answers to his questions.
Chopper – he couldn’t care less about the Life Games. He enjoys his, and he thinks everyone else should enjoy theirs without rocking the boat too much. But Q is his best friend, and as his best friend, he has protected him for years. He’s not about to let him do something this dangerous alone.
Gummy – she never questioned Life Games until Q approached her. She has growing feelings for Q and wants to help as much as she wants to win the Game Wars. She’s willing to help them out as much as she can, even though she feels it isn’t necessarily her problem.
Deuce – he can’t stand Q or Chopper, but as Gummy’s boyfriend, she has sway over him and convinces him to help her help them. He isn’t thrilled about it, and he does everything with a grudging distaste, but he cares for Gummy and wants to keep her out of trouble.
So we have four different people with the same goal, but completely different motives for wanting to reach it. When setting your characters apart, their drive to do whatever it is they’re doing is just as important, if not more so, than their distinguishing characteristics.