I was recently watching Best Wishes, Warmest Regards: A Schitts Creek Farewell on Netflix, and I strongly recommend it to any fans out there, but they made a lot of really great points in terms of character development.
No one knows better than authors and writers how important a good backstory is. And for a show like Schitts Creek, from the first episode until the last, you are still learning new things about the characters and I think that is what made it so addicting and real. In the documentary they discuss how they worked on the backstory for weeks before they started filming because they didn’t want to move on until they knew exactly who these characters really were.
As writers and authors I encourage you to do that with your work. List out your characters attributes and their individual backstories to fully understand who they are, perhaps before you even start writing. As readers we want to consume an emotional investment on the characters, and in order to do that we need more than x, y, and z! We need to fill in the cracks!
Think about it as if you were casting your own show for your book. How would the character portray themselves in a room, what would they wear, and how would they talk? All of these things play such an important role in a reader’s mind.
And as always have fun in creating them! They are a piece of your own imagination afterall!
The Anti-Hero We are living in a time where escaping the confines of our home is what we want to do more than anything. Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, etc. can only provide so much entertainment. The plots become predictable, the characters lose their shine…yada, yada. You know the drill. My favorite stories, both on the screen and between the pages, are the ones following the “most loved” character wrestle their moral high ground, and ultimately fail. These characters feel real. I feel like I know them, have met them in my day-to-day life. Truth is: I probably have and so have you. Instead of listing off characters you can base your own character off of, how about we talk about making your character unique to you?
BACKSTORY IS VITAL Backstory to characters who strive for the ultimate good makes sense. But what about the characters who are angry? Or who are evil? Do not forget one of the more important things in writing: evil can be created. Explore that. Whatever was done to this character can introduce so many more things about them, such as personality traits, nervous ticks, complex behaviors, and beliefs. Your reader doesn’t need to know this information right away, too. Write it out on a new document on your computer and in your notebook before you begin your tale. Uncovering the backstory as the story progresses is the best part about the antihero.
ANGRY OR NOT; THE OUTCOME OF THEIR ACTIONS ARE… Good! For them, at least. It’s a satisfaction for them to do the things they do, because they feel it’s right. They may hurt some people along the way, mentally or physically, but they have a goal in mind. This character could be ruthless. This is what sets them apart from your regular hero. It’s also what sets them apart from being a total villain. They don’t want good for everyone, they want good for them. Which, once their background seeps into the story, sympathy will be created for them by the reader (if they have heart, that is.)
REDEEMING QUALITIES BUILD SYMPATHY Okay, so what if the character in question likes to kill people. Simply because they like to do that doesn’t mean they don’t have a soft spot for Grandma or Grandpa who raised them through their chaotic upbringing. They’ll always make it home for dinner every night, so they don’t upset them. See that? That’s a redeeming quality. Piling up the negative can be emotionally exhausting. Not everyone is as terrible as that. I can think of a few, but we won’t go there. Overall, if the character has a laundry list of negative qualities and zero good ones and they still win in the end, that’s going to be one upsetting story and you’re going to have a laundry list of unhappy readers. Give them traits to make them likable. You’ll have your readers’ hearts in your hands.
YOUR ANTIHERO IS HUMAN (OR CLOSE TO IT) Point is, we are flawed. You and me. Your antihero should be too. Lean towards realism. They have their own moral code, their own inner conflict, and they will always face difficult decisions to meet their end goal. Don’t we all? That’s what makes us each unique in our own personal journey so why not give that to your antihero as well. We aren’t all terrible…right?
So, get to it! We’re done here. Nothing more, nothing less. Antiheroes are far more fun than regular heroes. It’s nice to see a good two-shoes every once in awhile, but I like characters who commit heinous acts (to a certain degree!) and have purpose to their wrongdoings. Who are some of your favorite antiheroes in the literary world? My all-time favorite will always be Dexter Morgan. Not because of Michael C. Hall’s adaptation (although, major plus, albeit), but because of Jeff Lindsay’s creation of him. A serial killer with conscience? Absolutely brilliant.
Today the most popular mouse in the world celebrates his birthday along with millions of others! He made his way onto the screens spreading smiles and laughter for years to come.
This made me think of how impactful we can be, and how our talents and creativity can spark a whole new world. Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse and many more characters that we cherish, all started by simply doing what he loved. He has bottled happiness and spread it worldwide, and it all started with a mouse.
Let Mickey Mouse be a remembrance that we all have to start somewhere. Develop your strengths and work them toward a goal. We are still drawn to this mouse after 91 years because of what he reminds us of and all the feelings that go along with it.
You can always add a little book inspiration with whatever you do! Including Halloween! Pumpkin carving has always been a must do fall activity in my house and each year we like to spice it up with a creative theme of some sort. This year…book inspired jack o lanterns!
How fun will it be for you to share your favorite stories with others as your pumpkin lights up the night?
Here are a few of my inspirations taken from a couple of my favorite stories throughout my childhood:
Don’t be afraid to be creative! Come up with your own inspiration through your favorite book or character.
But don’t we all get overwhelmed when we think we need to show everything? Are there certain categories of showing emotion or a character’s feeling towards something versus telling? Well, you can answer those questions because we’re going to share a quoted post. The original author is MIA but we do want you all to know – it wasn’t our idea. We’re simply adding a bit of input!
How to write ‘they blushed’ without writing ‘they blushed’:
They took a step backwards.
They shifted their weight from one side to the other.
They hid their face in their hands.
They shifted their glance to something else in the room, all around the room for that matter.
Their eyes widened.
They crossed their arms.
They leaned into themselves.
They scratched the back of their head.
Utilize hand motions. When people are nervous or embarrassed, they tend to use their hands to declare their frustration.
Quirks! Each character should have their own quirks even before you begin writing. It’s their go-to and displays some of their negative traits sometimes.
This was a weapon used to maim or kill infantry, and/or others not shielded with armor. Caltrops specifically had two or more sharp nails. In the past, caltrops were used against foot troops and cavalry. Today, caltrops are used against wheeled vehicles. We’ve all watched high speed chases!
The name of this device if from Latin. The original meaning is “foot-trap.”
Caltrops have been used in heraldry. Mainly as charges in the shields!
It is a European polearm. It’s decorated with a single-edged blade at one end of the pole. The blade is similar to that of an axe head – not a straight blade or as curved as cutlasses or swords.
Some of the blades were crafted with a small hook somewhere on the blade-end of the pole. Sometimes on the opposite end of the blade. This was used to catch riders. (This is a running theme in our weapons of choice!)
The glaive was a highly rated weapon in the polearm class/other hand-to-hand combat weapons of the time. This rating occurred in 1599.
What is so incredibly special about the weapon we are talking about this week is…it’s still in use! Maybe not for battle, but for ceremonial purposes and the pictures found online are of these traditions! Carry on…
This weapon originated in East Africa. It was used in battle and in hunting originally.
It also serves as a ceremonial tool for male warriors of the Maasai culture. The ceremonial rungu are decorated in beads sewn in by the local women.
It’s similar in shape to a club, mixed a bit with a baton. The end of the club was typically a heavy knob or a heavy ball.