Writing Characters

Something I think about when writing; maybe it’ll be something you think about too.

When I am writing a new character into a story I always try and remember that this character is also a main character.  In fact all characters are main characters.  You may wonder how could that possibly be.  When I say main character I don’t mean the main character of my novel.  I mean that all characters are the main character of their life.  When I bring in a random store clerk into the story for example.  They aren’t just a random store clerk.  That person has their very own novel going on.  They’re just guest staring in someone else’s story.  The great thing about writing when you have this in mind is that soon you have a whole bunch of novels in your head not just one.  Suddenly you’re creating a world not just a setting.  It’s also how people think in real life.  Everyone in the real world believes they are the main character.  We go through our life experiencing a wide range of different genres as the main character since that’s all we can experience.  Imagine how much more poignant it becomes when a person who thinks they are a main character realises they aren’t.

What does this mean for writing though?  Do I write a back story for every single person in the story?  Of course not.  Do I write the story in such a way that the reader doesn’t know who the protagonist is?  Well it could be interesting but no.   When I write a character it is all about the impression that that character is a person instead of a character.  Again how do I do that?  Well the answer is simple to say.  Maybe not so easy to do.  First impressions count.  No matter how insignificant a person is in our life we always form some kind of an opinion about them.  The more creative of us even try to think of what that person’s back story is.  An impression is all you need to give a character a third dimension.  An impression can be just what they look like and what that means to the main character or it can be the impression the writer builds for the reader.  This person speaks like this, moves like this, dresses like this, does this; what do you the reader think about them?

This is how I write anyway.  I’d be interested to know how others write their side characters and main characters for that matter.

How do you write your characters?

What do you prefer as a reader; archetypes or multi-layered?