Character Complexity. What in the world does this all mean? A story well told inextricably entwines place and person. The place is filtered through the person’s personality, age, education, experiences, culture, nationality, friends and family. It’s a must have for every story, every chapter, every scene. Show off your people, your place, your setting. Look for ways to enrich your story.
As Leila and her betrothed approached the Mountain House to vacation before they go out west, she was reminded why she was at once drawn to the area.
In my book, Indigo Sky, Memories of her youth in summer days flashed through her mind. Those were carefree times in the Catskill Mountains, when adventures sent excitement coursing through her veins. She stretched languidly, her mind drifting to games played on the mossy rocks in the brook. She’d challenged each rock to stay steady as she lithely jumped from one to the next until she reached the other side. Oh, to do that again.
“Why not?” Jumping to her feet, she paused as she surveyed the swollen brook. Water rushed over rocks in foaming eddies, leaving a few exposed as it raced to a dark green pool. I can do this.
She left the bonnet on the grass where she had tossed it and stepped onto a moss-covered rock inches from the edge of the brook. Water swirled around her skirt like champagne, soaking her hem. With each step, her exhilaration rose. I wish Hank were with me. She scowled. No, I don’t! The next rock peeked above the water. The smooth black stone sparkled like an iridescent jewel between the mosses, beckoning her. There was enough rock showing for one foot. Gingerly, she set her foot down and stepped onto the rock. She held her breath and jumped to the next rock.
Once stable, she slowly put her weight on another. Buoyed by success, she planted herself. It held. She giggled, once more a child unburdened by the constraints of society. She held her arms out like the spars of a topsail. Halfway across the brook, confidence replaced caution. She skipped across three rocks, laughing with joy—only six to go.
As her tongue poked from the corner of her mouth, she balanced. Her foot slipped on slimy moss, and the rock wobbled. She gasped, searching for a secure foothold.
As her tongue poked from the corner of her mouth, she balanced. Her foot slipped on slimy moss, and the rock wobbled. She gasped, searching for a secure foothold. Arms flailing wildly, she fought to regain her balance and then fell.
She squeezed her eyes shut and hit the rocks with bruising impact. Icy water engulfed her, taking away her breath. She floundered and clutched at the slippery rocks, but the strong current carried her relentlessly, and waterlogged garments hampered her efforts. Now the brook was her enemy. It tumbled her faster toward the pool. A scream tore from her throat before her head slammed into a rock.
The rapids were dragging her down.
Author Donald Maass, in figuring out what makes a breakout novel, writes the following about creating character complexity.
One-dimensional characters hold limited interest because they are limited as human beings. They lack complexity that makes real life people so fascinating. In well-constructed fiction, a multidimensional character will keep us guessing: What is this person going to do, say, or think next? Furthermore we are more likely to identify with them–that is, to see ourselves in them. Why? Because there is more of them to see.
According to Donald Maass’s book, Writing the Breakout Novel, perception changes as we change. In your stories, can you show your characters emotions, reactions and behavior to where they were then and where they are now?
How can you enrich your stories? Check out Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel.