There can’t really be story without them. Characters are what drive the reader to invest any time, any emotion, any energy into a story at all. You could write the most fascinating story of all time, filled with action and intrigue and plot twists and romance. But if the characters fail… the story (to some extent) will fail also. There’s no way around it. No way to avoid it. It is the characters that will make or break your online story. So it’s something that you should focus on before making a go at the genre.
Let’s be honest… as far as gay fiction goes, nine times out of ten, the boy ends up with the boy he’s longing for. That’s the formula. No one reads a gay erotic store and thinks, “I wonder if they’ll end up together?” Yes… they will. The surprise really isn’t a surprise, is it? There are some stories where the main character doesn’t end up with the love interest… but those stories can come off as depressing and anti-climactic. Sure, things like that happen in real life… but if your readers wanted the disappointment and tragedy of real life… they’d be out living real life. You have an opportunity to inspire hope and create a fantasy of your own making. And the way you do that is through relatable characters that enhance and feed off of your storyline.
The key to creating a character is to first begin to base some of the characteristics off of yourself. Think about how you view the world. Think about how you respond to conflict. To heartache. To self-doubt. Everybody WANTS to be a go-getter. Everybody WANTS to be beautiful and popular and confident. We all want to approach every situation as though we were the leading actor in a movie that we wrote for ourselves. But that’s not always the case, now, is it? Not in real life.
The fact is… we get scared sometimes. We fear rejection. We worry about what someone else is thinking when they’re not talking to us directly. We’re vulnerable when we’re in love. Awkward. Clumsy. Jealous. All of these traits are relatable to each and every one of us. When you’re creating a character, keep that in mind. Those emotions that you feel at the very heart of yourself… those emotions are felt by everybody. Tap into that. Don’t be afraid to expose your inner workings to your readers. Because that will, ultimately, be your greatest strength when it comes to truly drawing your readers in to what you write.
Start off by figuring out how this character is actually going to have an impact on your story. If he or she isn’t going to have an impact, then they don’t belong there. Period. Be wary of characters that show up and then disappear because you have no further use for them. Each and every character in your story should have some sort of effect on what you’re writing. Some impact. Even if that impact isn’t clear to your readers until later on… you should have some kind of plan as to explaining why this person was necessary for you to tell your story. If you have to struggle with a reason why… then they probably don’t belong there. Get rid of them. They will only work to pollute your tale with stuff that doesn’t need to be there.
As for the strength of each character, focus on each one individually. Even if it’s not a part of what I’m writing, I make sure to create a back story for each and every character that I write. In EVERY story. If I had to, I could write a solo story for every single character in every single story that you’ve read on my website. Because they’re not just a convenient way of furthering the story for me… they are actual ‘people’ in my mind. Each one with their own history that led them up to their inclusion in this particular story. The best examples of this can be found in “Gone From Daylight” and “Savage Moon”. Those characters didn’t just ‘appear’ there for the sake of the story. If you read it through, you’ll see that each one has a reason for being there. They have their own personalities, motivations, instincts, and flaws. Make sure that you ‘know’ your characters as you add them to your story. Take time and really get familiar with them. And when it comes time to write your next chapter, those characters will take over and the story will begin to write itself. Trust me, I know…
Another great benefit to having a host of colorful characters in your story, something that I’ve learned over the years, is that they can work to bring out certain emotions and aspects of your main character without the author having to explain it all. For example… you may have a really happy-go-lucky character in your story… but by adding a beautiful love interest to your story, you can expose certain vulnerabilities in that character. Maybe by adding a love rival, you can expose an envious side to your main character that wasn’t there before. Add a bully into the mix, and you can display the angry side to your protagonist. Every character you add can help to express another side to the main character in new and exciting ways. Always keep that in mind.
Think of the Seven Dwarves in Snow White. Each one has a distinct and separate personality. So you would have to deal with each one in a distinct and separate way, right? Your characters should be the same way. People are different. Observe the people in your life. Think about how they interact with you, and how you interact with them. The more you do this, the easier it will be to apply this to your writing.
This has been “Comsie Talks”! Keep writing! And when you’re done, submit it here to the magazine!