Characterisation and Causation

I have been challenged recently and thought I would share the challenge with you all.

The challenge I have faced is in reference to writing characters. The thing is, I guess one has to learn that one cannot simply decide that their hero is going to be broody and cynical because that’s attractive and that’s what they want, nor that their heroine is witty but slightly defensive just because she is.

Characterisation & Causation - Philippa Jane Norman - Author

A broody hero has to have a reason to be broody – remember Darcy? He was brought up to be proud and privileged and made protective and closed by Wickham’s behaviour…

I hear you say ‘What!?! Why can I not decide what my characters are and aren’t like?’

But the thing is, you can, I’m not saying you can’t, I can write any character I want HOWEVER, within characterisation, there must be causation.

Characterisation & Causation - Philippa Jane Norman - Author

Sherlock Holmes was altogether strange and rude creating an enigmatic character and why? Because his intelligence alienated him from others.

Causation is my fancy word – yes, you like it don’t you?

What I mean by that is that, say my hero is broody and cynical (as they all seem to be nowadays), well WHY exactly is he like that? You need to realise that when you are writing you are writing a real human being on paper and a real human being comes with positive and negatives, with issues and baggage in some areas and not in others.

Characterisation & Causation - Philippa Jane Norman - Author

Who can forget the forthright, justice-led and daring conversationalist – Elizabeth Bennett – And why is she all these things we admire? Because she is proud initially (yes, I said that and believe it) and is protective of her sister Jane.

So, I will ask you challenging questions – What is your hero or heroine like? Why are they like that? What in their past has shaped them to be like that? How does that affect their thoughts, actions and reactions? And ultimately, how is that worked out into the future of your book?

Be aware that, as with humans, your characters aren’t just going to fix themselves in a few pages of heart-to-hearting with another character, no, if it’s a true representation of real life then usually the character will stick with them and shape good and bad situations for them continually.

I shall be answering the above questions for myself as I go back to ‘The Debtor’s Redeemer’ for another revision and I count it a joy – The last time I revised it it completely changed and deepened the story – How will it change, bearing in mind this post, this time!?!

Philippa Jane Keyworth – Author

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2 thoughts on “Characterisation and Causation

  1. cavalrytales

    This is so true.
    I find the baddies difficult. I think I strayed too far to the dark side with one in my first story, mainly because I didn’t consider his background in sufficient depth. It was hinted at, but maybe not clearly enough even for me to see. I’ve tried to put that right in the sequel. More shades of grey this time.

    Heroes are easier I think. They have to be likeable enough that their faults, while essential, are minor enough to be ignored or forgiven. A lot like being married, really 🙂

    Reply
    1. ridiculousauthor Post author

      Haha! That did indeed make me laugh – the comment about being married – so true!

      I agree, perhaps baddies are more difficult, I struggled with this in a fantasy I recently wrote, but with Regency Romances, for the moment, I am struggling with the hero and heroine – lots to still learn and skills to still hone me thinks!

      Reply

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