By Jennifer Blanchard
While all three dimensions of character are important and necessary if you want to create a character that’s compelling and believable, dimension number 2 (backstory and inner demons) is just a little bit more important.
Because, as Larry Brooks explains in his eBook, The Three Dimensions of Character:
Your main character needs to overcome his/her inner demons prior to his/her final showdown with the story’s antagonist, and the overcoming of those inner demons becomes the enabling factor that helps him/her conquer all exterior obstacles.
That’s why you need to focus on the inner demons and make them really compelling and really believable—It’s going to be the thing that makes or breaks your main character.
Because if your character can’t overcome her inner demons (or if you can’t convince readers she’s actually overcome them or that they’re even worth trying to overcome in the first place), she can’t be the hero of the story.
And the protagonist has to be the hero. Or the story won’t work.
Some Common Inner Demons
So what counts as an inner demon? Here’s a list of some of the most common ones (excerpted from Brooks’ eBook):
- Lack of confidence
- A spotty moral compass
- Sexual deviance
“In general, any aspect of humanity that isn’t in line with expectations of others or the accepted ground rules of success within the boundaries of your story,” Brooks says.
More About Backstory
When you’re creating a character for your novel, you should know as much about the character as possible. But that doesn’t mean you should share all the information you know about the character with your readers.
Sometimes, less really is more.
Brooks talks about this principle in his eBook. That principle is:
Show 10 percent of your character’s backstory
What that means:
- Know everything about the character’s backstory, but keep most of it on the “DL.”
- “Flashback scenes solely for the purpose of explaining backstory are never a good idea,” Brooks says in his eBook. “You should be more subtle and artful in delivering backstory as part of narrative flow.”
- Only include backstory that moves the plot of your novel forward or is necessary in order for the reader to understand what is happening in the story.
For more details on crafting compelling, believable characters, read Brooks’ eBook, The Three Dimensions of Character.
Coming next week: Schedule prep and surviving NaNoWriMo.
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