Novels live and die on the basis of how well readers can empathize with the characters, and yet I constantly see my clients sabotaging their characters in ways both large and small, through errors large and small in the writing craft.
I once saw an error in parallel structure create the entirely unintended suggestion that a character hated his mother. Why? Because the character’s grandfather was in one grave, while his mother’s body was in the other. The core nouns delivered an emotional contrast the author wasn’t aware of. The core noun “grandfather” is emotionally warm, while “body” is emotionally cold. Subtle, but still a problem.
Such errors are probably to be expected. This intersection between writing craft and character development remains a dark and mysterious magic. Few craft books discuss it. Few blogs discuss it. Show me a gap like that, and I am constitutionally obligated to fill it.
It may be expected, but it is also tragic because these flaws so often ruin the reader’s ability to fall in love with the story’s characters. The characters, so lovingly imagined by their authors, are shown to the readers through a distorted fun-house mirror of unintentional writing craft mistakes.
Characters are where your story lives.
I’m passionate about character development because I’m passionate about characters.
What is a book you’ve read with great character development? What did you enjoy about it? Or, how could the character development have been deepened to make you love a book even more?