Monday, July 26, 2010
How to Write a Cardboard Character
1. Don’t give your characters any goals to strive towards or any lessons to learn. Make sure your characters are the same at the end of your novel as they were at the beginning. The single dimension can’t pull off anything as engaging as – shudder – growth.
2. Stick to clichés like glue. We all know that builders, truck drivers and miners are burly men, so if your character is any of these, then he must also be burly. We all know librarians wear glasses, so why give your librarian character good eyesight? Your main character has to be beautiful and she must be good at everything. Don’t rock the boat in the one dimensional world. No one likes surprises there.
3. Avoid motivations. Who cares what may have caused your characters to react a certain way. No explanation needed.
4. Only write as much about the character as is required by the plot. Make sure they are only driven by the story you want to tell. Don’t waste the reader’s time with internal conflicts. Don’t try to add any extra dimensions. One dimension means one and one only.
5. Don’t smudge the borders of good and evil. Make evil characters evil and good characters good. If your character wears the proverbial black hat then he must not show any goodness in him. Let’s not confuse the readers.
What are some of the mistakes you might make while trying to create a cardboard character?