Guest Post: Writing Great Characters with Michael Fletcher

The truth is, I have no idea. But I’ll talk
a bit about my process and if you’ve read my dark fantasy novel, Beyond Redemption, you can decide for
yourself whether it works.

Step One:

Embrace insanity. At the very least be
willing to wade nostrils-deep in schizophrenia.

You aren’t writing about these
characters, you are these characters. Get into their heads. Pretend you
are them. Role-play their parts as you write. Never have a character say or do
something simply because the plot requires it, always allow them to say and do
what they must to be true to who they are. Give them freedom. If you have to
fix your plot outline after one of your characters runs amok, so be it.

At all times you must keep in mind what
each character actually knows. If they didn’t witness an event occur, unless
another character tells them, they don’t know about it. Each character must
make decisions based on what information is available to them, your precious
plot outline be damned.

Though you know what each character
is thinking and what impetus is driving their decisions and actions, the other
characters do not. Just as in real life—if there is such a thing—each of your
characters should make decisions based on what they think is going on.
Your egocentric swordswoman is going to read a situation very differently from
your gigolo-with-a-heart-of-mud. If you want your characters to seem real, make
sure they’re at least occasionally wrong in their interpretation of events and
motivations.

Step Two:

Choose the point-of-view you write in
carefully…and get ready for more insanity.

The majority of science fiction and fantasy
is written in the third person (he did that, she said
this) rather than first person (I said this, she told me that).

Since third person POV is my personal
favourite, that’s what I’m going to focus on.

Don’t write in a Close Third POV, write in
a Suffocating Third POV. Be in the character’s head. Share their thoughts,
describe everything from their point of view. And I don’t
mean describe it from where they’re physically located, I mean describe it the
way they would, see it through their filters, through their personality.

Bob is a gardener and he’s looking at a
rock. It’s flat and round and smooth, glowing in the morning sun. It would look
perfect against a verdant background. There’s that garden he’s designing…

To Gwen, the assassin, it’s a brown rock
she can smash someone’s skull with. It looks well-balanced, easily thrown. It’s
fist-sized and will send teeth skittering like startled cockroaches.

And there you have it, my two step program to losing
your mind and ending up in a psyche ward writing great characters.

What is your favourite POV and why?


About Michael R. Fletcher

Michael
R. Fletcher is a science fiction and fantasy author. His novel, Beyond
Redemption
, a work of dark fantasy and rampant delusion, was published by
HARPER Voyager in 2015.

His début novel, 88, a cyberpunk tale about harvesting children for
their brains, was released by Five Rivers Publishing in 2013.

The next two Manifest Delusions novels, The Mirror’s Truth, and The
All Consuming
, are currently in various stages of editing while Michael
tries to be the best husband and dad he can be.

Michael is represented by Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

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About Beyond Redemption:

Faith shapes the landscape, defines the laws of
physics, and makes a mockery of truth. Common knowledge isn’t an axiom, it’s a
force of nature. What the masses believe is. But insanity is a weapon, conviction a shield.
Delusions give birth to foul new gods.

Violent and dark, the world is filled with the
Geisteskranken—men and women whose delusions manifest, twisting reality. High
Priest Konig seeks to create order from chaos. He defines the beliefs of his
followers, leading their faith to one end: a young boy, Morgen, must Ascend to
become a god. A god they can control.

But there are many who would see this would-be-god
in their thrall, including the High Priest’s own Doppels, and a Slaver no one
can resist. Three reprobates—The Greatest Swordsman in the World, a murderous
Kleptic, and possibly the only sane man left—have their own nefarious plans for
the young god.

As these forces converge on the boy, there’s one
more obstacle: time is running out. When one’s delusions become more powerful,
they become harder to control. The fate of the Geisteskranken is to inevitably
find oneself in the Afterdeath. The question, then, is:

Who will rule there?

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