A Side Note

I can not help but wonder whether the situation I am in, in regards to my writing, is one which other aspiring authors have encountered. I have a complex, lush, and fully-fleshed-out world, teeming with unique, yet familiar creatures; I have villains with realistic, understandable rationalizations for their actions, and complex backstories that make you both pity and loathe them, and personalities to match; ditto for my ancillary characters. But my main characters? Can you say Vanilla Pudding?

The problem I seem to be having is that, unlike my villains and ancillary characters, my main character doesn’t have a terribly convoluted or tragic background. In fact, she’s just a pretty average country girl who’s going to University in the city. She is utterly devoid of personality. I keep trying to inject her with personality — like a quick temper, innate distrust of others, or naivety — but the Mary Sue Alarm in my head keeps going off when I do. Granted, I’ve been compensating for the Sueishness of these characteristics by having them actually cause her problems in the story, but it still doesn’t feel right.

Does anyone have any advice? Or perhaps an existential treatise on the very nature of personality? Either way, I’d love to hear it.

Published in: on March 20, 2009 at 10:44 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Have faith and trust in your story! Let your character’s actions / reactions do the talking for her and her personality will start to shine through I’m sure.

    • Thank you! I’ll try and relax and do that…I just have a tendency to get hung up on the psychology of why my characters act the way they do.

  2. When it comes to characters, I agree with you that it’s difficult to develop them in a way that doesn’t become stereotypical or lacking too much in flaws to be considered three dimensional. My advice would be to remember that writers write from experience (this is debatable though) and so when you write about characters…base it on the characteristic of yourself and others. Like my heroine for example, I implemented the strength I observed in my cousin, while instilling the weakness of self-consciousness and the need to be accepted by society, both of which I found in myself and a few others. So yes, that’s my advice, to write about the vices and virtues you see in everyday, average people. That way you have a balance and it doesn’t become stereotypical.

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