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Thursday, March 14, 2024

Inventory Characters in Storytelling | Writing Ahead

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Are you utilizing inventory characters in your tales?

I used to be just lately studying a novel, and some chapters in, I spotted I had combined up two of the principle characters. In truth, I had been studying them as in the event that they had been a single character. I’m a fairly sharp reader, and this has by no means occurred earlier than, so I attempted to find out why I’d made the error. Was I drained? Hungry? Not paying consideration?

I went again and reviewed the textual content and seen that these two characters had been vague. They had been so alike that with out rigorously noting which one was appearing in any given scene, it was unimaginable to distinguish them from one another. They had been basically the identical character. Even their names sounded alike.

This acquired me to serious about the significance of constructing a solid of characters who’re distinctive and distinct from one another as a substitute of a solid of inventory characters who’re mere clones of each other.

Inventory Characters

We generally discuss inventory characters in literature. You recognize them: the mad scientist, the poor little wealthy child, the hard-boiled detective. These characters have a spot in storytelling. When readers meet a sassy, gum-popping waitress in a narrative, they instantly know who she is. They’ve seen that character in different books and films. Perhaps they’ve even encountered waitresses like her in actual life. These characters are acquainted, however they’re additionally generic.

After we use a inventory character as a protagonist or another main character, we’ve to present the character distinctive qualities so the character doesn’t come off as generic or boring. It’s advantageous to have a sassy, gum-popping waitress make a single look in a narrative, but when she’s a lead character, she’s going to wish deeper, extra advanced improvement so the readers not really feel as in the event that they already know her. She has to develop into recent and fascinating.

Stieg Larsson did this brilliantly in The Woman with the Dragon Tattoo and the sequels that made up the Millennium trilogy (aff hyperlinks). At first the protagonist, Lisbeth Salander, looks as if a surly punk, the form of character we’ve seen one million instances earlier than. Because the story progresses and Lisbeth strikes to heart stage, we be taught there’s extra to her than meets the attention. She’s delinquent, and she or he’s a pc genius. She’s daring, courageous, and hard. She’s not just a few surly punk. She is an ethical particular person with distinctive challenges — one of the intriguing characters in up to date fiction.

Cloning Characters

Inventory characters are sometimes taken from supply materials, generally as an homage and different instances as a blatant rip-off. Such characters are problematic once they characteristic prominently in a narrative and haven’t any traits that differentiate them from the character upon which they’re based mostly. Do you wish to learn a narrative a few boy wizard named Hal Porter who wears glasses and has a scar on his brow? In all probability not, except it’s a parody of Harry Potter, whom everyone knows.

You’ll be able to definitely write a narrative a few younger wizard who is predicated on Harry Potter, however you need to differentiate your character from Harry. Make the character a woman, give her a listening to assist as a substitute of glasses, and provide you with a memorable title that doesn’t instantly convey Harry Potter to thoughts. And provides your character her personal persona and challenges.

Because the e book I used to be just lately studying demonstrates, we additionally should be careful for cloning characters inside our personal tales. For many writers, this can be a larger drawback than cloning characters out of different authors’ tales.

Give it some thought: you’re the creator of all of the characters in your story. You may need based mostly them on individuals or characters you already know and love (or detest). You may need conjured them out of your creativeness. However they’re all coming from you: your ideas, your experiences, and your voice.

Whereas I’ve by no means combined up two characters in a e book I used to be studying earlier than, I’ve seen that characters who act, assume, and communicate equally are frequent. And whereas a solid of characters who’re related to one another in each manner possible doesn’t essentially make a narrative dangerous, a solid of characters who’re noticeably distinct from one another is significantly better.

Nature vs. Nurture: Methods to Keep away from Cloned Characters

Cloning is the follow of creating a duplicate of one thing, a precise reproduction. You’ll be able to clone a human being (or a personality), however as soon as the clone comes into existence, it would instantly begin altering and turning into completely different from the unique. Its private experiences will likely be distinctive. By nature, the unique and the clone are precisely the identical, however nurture (or life expertise) will trigger the clone to deviate from the unique.

Listed below are some ideas to verify your characters are distinctive and never clones of one another or any character or particular person they’re based mostly on:

  • Give your characters distinct and memorable names. Keep away from giving characters names that sound alike. Don’t use names that begin with the identical letter and are the identical size, and don’t use names that rhyme.
  • Except you’re writing a household saga, be sure that your characters don’t all look alike. Strive creating a various solid of characters.
  • Characters’ speech patterns will rely on the place they’re from, however people even have their very own quirky expressions and sayings. Use dialogue to distinguish the characters from one another. Perhaps one character swears loads whereas one other calls everybody by nicknames.
  • Create character sketches full with backstories. If you already know your characters intimately, you’ll be much less more likely to painting them as a bunch of clones.
  • That will help you visualize your characters, search for images of actors, fashions, and different public figures that you should utilize to assist your creativeness fill within the blanks.
  • When you’ve created your solid, ask whether or not any of them are inventory characters. If any of your main characters really feel like inventory characters, make them extra distinctive.

Are You Utilizing Inventory Characters? Are Your Characters a Bunch of Clones?

The principle drawback with the e book I discussed initially of this submit was that there have been two characters who had been basically functioning as a single entity, a minimum of for the primary 4 or 5 chapters, which is so far as I acquired within the e book. Collectively, they shared the identical function or perform inside the story. The most effective repair for that drawback would have been to mix the 2 characters right into a single character, one thing I’ve needed to do in one in all my fiction tasks that had a number of too many names and faces.

How a lot consideration do you pay to your characters while you’re writing a narrative? What methods do you utilize to get to know your characters and ensure they’re all distinctive? Have you ever ever seen inventory characters or cloned characters in a narrative you’ve learn? Share your ideas by leaving a remark, and hold writing!


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