As you’ve navigated your way through the maze of story development, you’ve likely spent the time to understand and cultivate your characters. While I’m not assuming you haven’t crossed your T’s and dotted your I’s in regards to your fabricated universe, have you truly analyzed the web of influence connecting each character? By “web of influence” I’m referring to how the influence of one character alters the desires and wants of another.
Utilizing the power of influence over the development of your characters enhances character depth. Always regard your characters as actual, living beings. As living creatures, with a life that continues when you’re not sitting at your desk, the influence of others greatly weighs on “present day” choices and desires.
Relationship Affects Influence
Think about a time in your life when a person you admired, respected, was enthralled with gave you a slight critique on your work or on how you handled a situation. I would imagine you would respond with a mind of hearing, and whether because this critique carried weight or your a people-pleaser, this influence would alter your desire. Perhaps this alteration isn’t completely different than the original desire, nonetheless, the desire and the actions fueled by this desire change.
Now imagine a person you did not respect, or perhaps even a stranger, came up and gave the same semi-negative critique. Instead of having a mind of hearing and understanding, you’d likely approach the situation with defensiveness. It could be that you took this critique in an extremely negative way, which has the potential to alter your desires or intentions. It’s with this influence your path can wander into a different path. Of course, there is no “rule” for how a person is influenced. This is yet another consideration to take when formulating the DNA of your characters.
While these examples are extreme and lacking a true backbone to support its claims, it is a basic example of how relationships directly affect the level and type of influence an individual has. When cultivating your characters, remember who they are dealing with or talking about. Delve deeper into the relationship and experiences between every character – even characters who are meeting for the first time (their relationship/experience profile will likely be limited).
Deeply exploring characters reveals a rich history bursting with layers of experiences, emotions, desires and fears.