WE’VE COME A LONG WAY THROUGH THIS CHAPTER, from invention of your characters to analysis of their role in the story, from making your characters sympathetic to letting your readers see inside your characters’ minds.
Good characterization isn’t a simple recipe to follow – there are too many possibilities, too many variables for any writer ever to put down a story and say, “There. The characterization is finished.”
As long as your mind is alert to possibilities, your characters will grow and develop and deepen and change with every outline you make and every draft you write.
And as you become more aware of what’s possible in characterization, the more experience you get in storytelling as a whole, the better the decisions you’ll make and the fuller and more believable your characters will be.
If you’re serious about storytelling, you’ll write many stories and people them with hundreds of different characters. Even though all the characters are created by your own imagination, you still come to know them just as your readers do, except that you’ll know them better and care about them even more.
Sometimes, looking back on something you wrote years before, you’ll find one of your characters doing or saying something that will astonish you. How did I know she’d say that? you’ll wonder. How did I ever know that that was who she was?
You’ll realize then what your readers already know: that the people in your fictional world are worth knowing. Because you took the time and trouble to discover them, develop them, and present them skillfully, your readers will know those fictional people of yours far better than they’ll ever understand the people of flesh and blood around them.
If your fictional vision was a good and truthful one, your characters will help your readers understand their families, their friends, their enemies, and the countless mysterious and dangerous strangers who will touch their lives, powerfully and irresistibly. And you, looking back, will join them in saying a resounding Yes to the people in your tales.
Yes. I know you, I believe in you, you’re important to me. Yes.
©Andrea MarshallDodgson 1973