Sometimes when we write the themes to our stories, we don’t consider the vast subject of crafting our characters to fit our theme. Many times we craft them separately, first creating the theme, and then creating the characters (or vice-versa).
That is a big mistake. Whenever you’re crafting your characters, you should always have the theme of your story in mind, so that when you write the story, both the theme and the characters flow together, thus creating a smoother and more convincing story.
So here are five ways that you can figure out how to craft your character to fit your theme.
1: Craft Them at the Same Time
While you are working on creating your theme, create your characters as well! When you figure out your main theme, brainstorm and figure out how your characters can fit into that, portray it well, or contrast it.
Sometimes when you’re doing this it’s actually easier to create your characters because you have something to base them off of.
2: Give Your Character Fitting Traits
To go with the theme, try giving each one of your characters particular flaws and strengths so that they really show your message.
Perhaps if your theme is leadership, and there is a character who is supposed to encourage your MC (or whoever is going to have the character arc, positive in this case), give him the natural strength of leadership, as well as being nice, so that he can befriend and teach the MC.
And if the MC is supposed to learn good leadership by the end of the story, start him out as a horrible leader, and acting mean to people in general, so he can’t do it, but inside, he really is nice, and has the potential to be a leader. You could perhaps show how he is actually nice by showing how he cares for people he knows well and loves.
Anyways, this part of crafting your character is very important to reveal the theme of your story.
3: Inner Character, Outer World
Make the characters thoughts and struggles on the inside contrast or reflect with the outside world and theme, so that it will make everything about the story always keep bringing up the theme. As your character struggles with an inside dilemma, show that on the outside as well, perhaps he struggles with something very similar at his work, or with his friends.
4: Give Your Antagonist Different Views
It’s a good idea when you are creating your characters to give the antagonist a view on the theme instead of just tossing him in.
Say you are writing a villain. Don’t just immediately write him as the evil overlord.
Though it may be easier to just say he is “the most evil person ever and just wants to control the world” and make him try to kill the MC, it’s important that he play a part in the theme and message of your story, so that every character, good or bad, changes and shapes your MC’s view so that in the end he can reach his final view that will finish off the story.
5: Constantly Bring the Theme Up
No matter what character it is, keep the theme a constant thing in your story. Wow, I feel like I sound like a broken record. All of these tips come back to this! If it is the main character you are crafting, always have them struggle or think about or act using the main components of the theme. If it is a side character who only shows up a couple times in the book, weave them into the theme to contrast or reflect it, giving the theme more umph.
For example, if there is a side character that is supposed to discourage your main character from, say, forgiving people, maybe make them an old man who has lived a bitter life and has never forgiven the people that hurt him. Have him share his story with your MC and encourage them to live a hard life, only trusting themselves and never giving people second chances.
And so through each character your MC meets, they will learn different views on the theme of the story.
I will say it again. Always have the theme show up so that it is constant and is not just thrown in to the story. The theme is the base. Build everything off of that.
Are you working on a theme for your story? Have you felt like your characters are flat, due to the fact that they perhaps don’t fit the theme of your story enough? Are you already basing your characters off of your theme? Please comment! I’d love to chat with you!
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