Have you ever been reading a piece of fiction and felt such a deep connection that you feel exactly how the character does? You don't even need to be able to relate with that character. They could be the complete opposite to you, be in a situation you would never find yourself in, and yet you still understand them deeply. Ever had to stop yourself from laughing at a character while reading on the bus because people may look at you strangely? Ever found yourself with tears running down your face because you feel sympathy for a character? Well, as a writer, I try to learn from the authors who can make me feel for their characters.
The reason I bring this up is because I am currently reading a novel which has made me feel such a connection. I am reading the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson and I can say he is an amazing author. The protagonist of his story, a young girl named Vin, started out as a street urchin eventually discovering her powers as an Mistborn allomancer. In book one, she joins a thieving crew filled with other allomancers, pretends to be a noble girl attending balls, and ends up killing an (almost) god. I can't exactly relate to any of those experiences. However, something in the way Brandon depicts Vin was able to touch me. I have grinned giddily during the happy moments and cried during the sad. I even cried when Vin's crush, Elend, was ignoring her! I have wanted her to be able to trust others and wanted her to succeed. Brandon was able to create a character and give her such depth that I could understand her thoughts and emotions. I feel her internal conflicts as my own. This level of connection is what I wish to be able to accomplish with my own characters.
Reading books such as this was the cause for why I now plan my characters carefully before I begin a story. I write out a plan for my character's personality traits, their history, their strong and weak points, and their appearance. From doing this, I feel that my characters have more depth and that writing about feels more natural. This is because I already know my own characters quite thoroughly instead of learning about them as I write.
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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