Characters are the life force of any story, movie, or book. So if you want a compelling story or book, your character has to be equally compelling. It’s through the character’s eyes and thoughts that the reader or movie goer understands and sees the themes and environment. The better the character, the better your audience will understand the theme or message you’re trying to convey.
Normally, when I think of a character, I have the idea is my head. So I’ll write the character just as I see them—a free write, with no grammar check, just getting the idea down as its is in my head.
Then I’ll do what a lot of books suggest is to write a questionnaire about your main character and use a smaller version of the same questions for you minor characters. This questionnaire would have:
• The character physical status
• Feeling of employment
• Education background
• Type of childhood and most fondest memories
• Their social skills
• How well they deal with various emotions
• Various philosophies on love, sex, community, parenting, etc.
Then I ask myself two questions:
• How does the personal goals of the character directly and/or indirectly influence my main character
• How does the character help shape the overall theme for the piece
Answering those questions helped me answered questions like, “What does he or she do when angry.” Now these answers to the questions will help move or bring out the overall theme or reflect on the main character.
However, if see that one of my characters cant seem to move the theme or story forward or does nothing for the main character—the character needs to be reworked or deleted.
I try to make sure that everything that happens in my story, both directly and indirectly, impacts my main character. That helps prevent me from getting off my theme. It also helps me keep my pace and intensity.