I have realized I had been indifferent to not just the peripheral characters who dotted my story, but also to the protagonist and the antagonist in my earliest work. No wonder then, its lying in the lower drawer of my desk. When I revisited that particular book, I blanched at the flat characters I had created. Forget about bonding with them, a reader may not even like the one dimensional creatures, as flat as cheese trapped between two slices of bread, I had unknowingly unleashed years back.
I have realized that for the characters in our books to become multidimensional creatures with rounded personalities that readers will love, bond and befriend, we have to make the characters grow. By growth its not just the numerical or the physical growth, but also the emotional, spiritual, intellectual and mental growth. A growth that signifies and symbolizes that life is not only being lived every single moment, but also that its teaching us every single moment. This emotional, spiritual, intellectual and mental growth happens when we experience life in its entirety, when we battle everything that life is constantly tossing in our paths, and yet move ahead without giving up hope or the dreams we carry in our hearts.
Character development is an important ingredient of our story. For a character to develop to it’s full potential, character growth becomes vital. Not just the main character, but the antagonist as well as other characters too must grow before the readers' eyes. This can only happen when they experience the bitter sweet emotions of joy and sorrow, meet with success and failure, adjust with guilt and regret. They need to forge relations that may or may not blossom, undergo the ups and downs and uncertainities that mark life, show their deepest fears and darkest emotions, reveal their brave fronts as well as their vulnerable sides to the readers. Growth is one facet of life that is constant like change and it will resonate with the readers. Our characters are reflections of what we undergo in our own lives.
As humans we are constantly evolving and changing, sometimes for the better and at other times for the worse. Though we may be unaware of it, each and every experience: whether good or bad contributes to our growth. Likewise for our characters.
When these varied emotions are added to the characters, its then that he/she/they really start living and breathing. The story literally hums into life and the characters develop flesh and bones, blood and skin.
I am striving to make my characters grow. How do you all bring about character growth? Do you have any special method to breathe life into your characters? Please share, we all will surely benefit from your experiences.