April 16th, 2013

An Issue of Character

The Science Fiction I grew up with was idea-driven or action-driven. Characters? They were servants of the plot. That's not to say that all Science Fiction of that era or any era is that way. I sought out big idea fiction, with a lot of action as a must-have. As I write more fiction, I find myself wanting to write deeper characters and have the stories revolve around them more, not at the expense of the big ideas or the action, but to give them more impact. "This is happening to someone readers care about."

I can write characters with a fair amount of depth, but I've noticed something peculiar: the more like me a character is, the less deep I tend to go with them. Semi-human woman from a technologically primitive society? Not a problem. White male from the present? Hard to get in his head. One of my writing teachers suggested that might be due to fear of revealing to much about my self through my characters. There is probably an element of truth to that. In any case, I'm working at making my characters deeper and more distinctive, and I can see major progress in that compared to the stories I wrote eight to ten years ago. It's probably the biggest difference I see between my writing then and now.