Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Painting Complete Characters in Fiction

Why in the world would a writer want to create an incomplete character?

Creating A Total Image for Your Characters In Your Writing

Image courtesy of Flavio Takemoto ~

One might think it’s a craft technique to keep the reader in the dark for a while

No—incomplete characters are the result of bad writing.

Naturally, I’m not using “complete” to mean every last detail—rather, complete as in “without defect” or “perfect”.

However, it can take a full novel to paint a complete character.

And, keeping the reader in the dark only demands keeping the character off the canvas of the page; or, only making tangential renderings of their actions.

Still, using a sufficient amount of diffused depictions can certainly render a “perfect” image of a character

Let me bring in another writer—J. L. Campbell—who guest-posted on Jessica Bell’s blog with the article, Creating A Total Image of Your Character.

I’ll give you a few excerpts from the article but urge you to take the link to appreciate the full argument

“When you think of an ‘image’, the first thing that may come to mind is a picture…For this discussion, I’m interested in the physical, mental and symbolic connotations of the word for storytelling purposes.”

“In crafting stories, our image of each character would be their outward appearance. Most of the time, we see this through the eyes of other characters…”

“Another aspect of image is the way in which others think about your main character.”

“Then there is the perception we attach to certain positions and people. Some of us tend not to look too far beyond stereotypes.”

“Another useful method is to show how the character sees himself.”

“…situations in which our protagonist can exercise his problem-solving abilities is another way to create a complete image of that individual.”

“Your protagonist’s relationships also tell a lot about him.”

So, there are the main points—read the full article for the whys and wherefores :-)

However, there are two important questions at the end of the article.

I’m hoping you’ll go over there and answer them:

What other ways do you use to give readers an accurate picture of your characters?

Do you agree that an inner view of a person is as important as what others think of him?
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4 responses to “Painting Complete Characters in Fiction

  1. milliethom January 15, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    A great post, with advice that every new writer should read, including me! Character development is so important and the article you have summarised so well covers the important aspects of it.


  2. Alexander M Zoltai January 15, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    So glad you found it valuable, Millie :-)


  3. J.L. Campbell January 15, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Thanks for the share, Alexander, and for adding your views.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alexander M Zoltai January 15, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      You’re Very Welcome, J. L.; and, thank you for the visit :-)


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