Many writers decide early in their careers what type of personality they like to write about most. That personality is fixed to a primary character in their novels and becomes a character they reuse in a series or a personality that spans several separate novels. Others like to work with a variety of personalities, even growing tired of using the same characters.
In this post, I want to talk about why I think it is important to write different characters.
First of all, I want to clarify this topic.
Most novels will include a range of characters, this much is true. A writer would struggle to write a novel if there weren’t that many characters to help create challenges for the main characters and progress the plot. After all, the protagonists and antagonists tend to have vastly different personalities!
Yet, I am referring to the different personalities that the writer simply doesn’t include. Most of the time these are the personalities that the writer despises, or finds difficult to write. These personalities aren’t necessary for every story, and that is fine, as I am not saying one should include the full personality spectrum in their novels either.
In this post, I want to talk about experimenting with one’s writing in order to understand different angles in a story. A character can face any number of conflicts and their development can be guided in many directions. That alone is a challenge for writers, as they have to use their imagination to logically write these characters and how they learn and change over the story.
Yet, I have found that taking the time to experiment with different characters is a great way to develop better methods for rounding out the characters one does like to write.
Let me break it down.
We all have genres of writing we don’t like to write as much as others. Some genres we never want to write and that’s fine too. The same thing applies to characters, there are some personalities we simply struggle to write about or we have no interest in including in our novels.
Yet, when I was writing a short story every day for a year, I learned that to expand one's imagination, one has to experiment with difficult genres and characters. In the beginning, I could only feel comfortable writing adventure and thriller stories, but that quickly grows tiresome and one-dimensional when you’re constantly pushing yourself to come up with a new plot the next day.
That is when I decided to experiment with different genres. In the beginning, I was a very novice writer sticking with characters that I enjoyed writing, but they were fairly bland. Yet, over the months of writing, I started writing characters with personalities and ambitions my usual main characters would never have.
It certainly changed the game for me, as I had to create something that still made sense in a world of writing I knew so little about. To this day, this is why I haven’t created a course on writing a romance novel, or a comedy novel, as those are genres of writing that don’t come naturally to me.
Yet, through taking the time to experiment, I understood that the characters in my thriller weren’t different from the characters in these genres. Everybody is human, they have the same desires and values, but their situations are vastly different. Personalities were different as well, as I would often design personalities that best suited the genre and not ones that best suited the story.
Meaning, my characters were flat because they lacked the depth of other emotions that I displayed when writing about other personalities. Everybody has a bit of every personality trait, but everyone has more or less of each trait when compared to others.
I know, this is pretty obvious and I am an idiot for not realizing it sooner. Yet, had I properly recognized it at the beginning, I would still struggle to round out my characters. I believe that taking the time to experiment, to practice writing different stories ( even short stories) is a great way to add to your writing skillset.
There are many reasons that I would recommend writing short stories, from keeping oneself active to keeping writing fun, but this is definitely one great reason to start experimenting with your writing.
There are many aspects of writing that we think we understand well, but every day we learn a little more, be it through practice or analytical reading. From characters to the plot, these lessons help our understanding of different stories and our writing as well. To this day these methods help me write my characters and I believe they can help other writers as well.
I know that writing your chosen genres is also great practice, even studying other writers is a great way to see what works, but I think such experimenting is invaluable.
Of course, these are just my thoughts on the topic. I would like to hear what you think! Do you think that experimenting with different genres and characters helps you write your main genre, or does study of your chosen genre benefit you more? Let me know in the comments!
Also, let me know if you have any other topics that deserve discussion in an episode of Writing Thoughts!
Thank you for reading and as always,
Good day, goodnight and happy writing!