Character analysis…and the writer’s search for the secret places of the human condition

Fictional characters are anything but.

To write them, I must know them, inside and out, before I can feel empathy for them, and before I can understand why and how they will do the things that I will make them do, and say the words I will make them say. In other words, I must believe that they are real flesh and blood, with all of the wonders and foibles that go along with that. Only then, can I really write them in any meaningful way.

This is nothing new to any writer worth their salt, right? And of these knowing writers, who does he/she choose to analyze the most?

The writer’s self: as Confucius say – no matter where you go, there you are.

We are not just students of the human condition, we are our own subject matter, and it never ceases to fascinate me how we operate. How we relate, articulate, disseminate the world, our lives, our wants, our needs. And what of our secret selves? The histories, the pain, the faded and vivid memories, the disappointments, the yearnings, the unchartered dreams, the joys? The stuff that shapes us; the stuff that we never show and tell. Our interior lives – where the most fascinating secrets exist to influence how we choose to live and the paths we take.

The fictional life is no different. And it is the challenge for the writer to pick away at those layers of being until exposing that space between what is seen in the character’s exterior life, and what is hidden in their interior one. The secret place of the human condition that exposes the reasoning behind every deed and action, and towards those surprises and discoveries that will lead us to chart a compelling arc for our character.


Image is the FREEDOM Sculpture by Zenos Frudakis

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