In her essay, Dr. Hinze explained that your characters have to "grow and change" as they experience life's conflicts. Therefore, you must describe and evolve their spiritual and emotional sides along with their physical attributes. "Everything about them--including their speech patterns, the way they dress, their body language--tells the reader who these story people are and proves they are both universal and unique. To be unforgettable, a story person must be both."
Fair Enough. Our characters must be "universal and unique." What exactly does this mean? Let's delve further into Dr. Hinze's essay. She defines universal traits as those traits common to humans that are typically based on emotions. "…love, hate, shame, embarrassment, humiliation, fear, grief, and/or guilt...These are our universal traits." Unique traits are a bit harder to pin down.
Dr. Hinze defines unique traits as "Convictions, ethics, beliefs, social mores--all of those traits that come as a result of our personal histories, backgrounds, and experiences. Those traits that mold our unique characters. Force us to take a stand, to see where on the fence we sit."
Because all of us have universal and unique characteristics and all of us are far from being perfect, the characters we create shouldn't be perfect either. Perfect characters are not only unbelievable (void of the internal and external conflicts that are the essence of three-dimensional characters). Perfect characters are boring, Dr. Hinze warns.
Thus, her recipe for creating unforgettable characters:
"Find the character's Achilles' heel--their greatest fear or weakness or
vulnerability. That's the character's internal conflict. Then stomp it. That's external conflict in the book. The stomping is your plot."
What excellent food for thought! The rest of Dr. Hinze's essay
explains her techniques for fleshing out unforgettable characters. If you've learned as much as I have in these two blog posts, I highly recommend you read the whole essay.
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