In our last meeting we had a couple of conversations about character development. The characters in my most recent story, “Last Fling,” inspired a line of discussion about how characters need to have more than one facet to their personality. We also talked about character arc and how characters should change as the climactic events of the story develop.
It reminded me of an article I read on Wired magazine’s website. Dan Harmon, the creator of the sitcom Community, has a unique way of creating and developing characters. Head on over and check it out.
I find that I generally create characters in a much more organic manner; they start off with a very simple concept (‘single nice guy’, for instance, or ‘ostracized young man with anger issues’) and develop over time and story revisions into something more. Character arcs follow the plot of the story, rather than story following the arc of the character.
The question is, which one is better? Should your story dictate how the characters develop, or should the arc of your characters lead your story down whatever path it may lead?
I think the answer is probably neither one, or both. Or, more likely, “whichever one works better for you for the story you’re writing.” It’s always a good idea to have another tool in your writing arsenal, though, to pull out when one method isn’t working out.
What do you think?