One of the most challenging tasks in the process of coming up with a work of fiction is that of developing the characters. I have heard many authors making this assertion before. But it was not until I embarked on the project of writing my own fiction book that I came to appreciate just how challenging the task (of developing characters) can be.
In my case, I have had to firstly ensure that the characters in my work of fiction are real. This is tricky, because the nature of my book is such that I don’t get a chance to describe characters in length. On the contrary, the nature of the book’s plot is such that the reader encounters the various characters ‘suddenly’ as he goes through the pages. Thus, the reader is supposed to start making conclusions about the characters as he reads about what they do (and what they don’t do) as the book’s plot unfolds.
I have also had to ensure that the characters in my work of fiction are exciting. This is tricky, because it has to be balanced against the objective of making the characters look real. Thus, on the one hand, I have had to make the readers see themselves in the characters: knowing very well that most people live unexciting, uninspiring ‘normal’ lives. And on the other hand, I have had to ensure that the characters are exciting, in a modest way – because that is surely the only way they can be worth reading about.
Finally, I have had to ensure that the characters in my work of fiction fit properly into the book’s plot.
I have heard that there are authors who first come up with characters, and then try to create a plot around the characters. I have heard that there are other authors who first come up with a plot, and try to get characters to find roles to play in the plot. I belong to the latter category: as I first came up with a plot, and then ended up with the unenviable task of trying to get my characters to play various roles within the plot. It has been a challenging undertaking, but I have enjoyed it all the same. Now the book is ready for launch.