So last week I talked about the differences between topic and theme as well as why theme is so important in written works. This week I am going to be talking about how your story’s theme pertains to creating the characters in your story.
As writers, the most important thing when writing characters is to ensure that they are realistic. Well, real people have beliefs, ideas that shape their daily lives and are an integral part of who they are. So why not give your character beliefs of his/her own? With the beliefs that your give your character, you give them a purpose, a reason to do the things they do in the story. Those beliefs can also put them at odds with other characters that perhaps have a different set of beliefs, creating more conflict. So how do you come up with your characters’ beliefs?
For me, I like to look back at what the main theme/topic in my story is and work from there. For example, in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the main topic is prejudice. And so Harper Lee shows this throughout the novel in part through Atticus’ belief that you can’t truly understand a person until you try to see things from their point of view, a belief that helps drive the story forward by causing him to take the case of Tom Robinson.
Taking your theme into consideration is important in creating your characters, especially if you want to plan out a character arc for them. A character arc is basically how your character and their beliefs change throughout the novel/series. So in your story, to give it more of a sense of harmony, I would use your characters’ arc to portray your intended theme for the story. For example, if you are writing a story where the central topic is on heroism, them perhaps you have a group of characters that need to save the world, all the while grappling with their own definition of heroism. Perhaps the leader of the group realizes that they need to trust their team more while another person in the group finds that heroes are made not born. And if you are able to use a variety of characters with different beliefs and morals, you are better able to present your readers with the theme as you are able to analyze the theme throughout the story in different ways and angles which altogether will be more impactful.
I truly hope this helps you when creating your characters. Please comment what beliefs your characters have and how they connect to your story’s overall theme.