Tuesday, 9 July 2013

FLAT AND ROUND CHARACTERS



When E. M. Forster used the term flat and round characters in his book, Aspects of a Novel, he wasn’t referring to Laurel and Hardy, he was making a distinction between major and minor characters.


Round characters are the major players in your story and are fully developed, possessing many facets to their personalities. These are the people who carry the plot, who are involved in the important action and events, and upon whom you lavish hours of thought and deliberation when bringing them to life on the page; you have to focus on them because, above all, they must come across as authentic.

Nonetheless your protagonists and antagonists don’t live in a vacuum and you will often need other minor characters to perform various functions. These are your flat characters, the walk-on roles such as distant family members, garage attendants, doctors etc. The list is as endless as your imagination, but the important point is that even though your minor characters may only make a brief appearance, they still need to come alive in your readers' imagination.

The way to make your less important characters stand out is to give them some memorable detail. When you introduce them, describe fully at least one aspect of their appearance  - a flamboyant way of dressing, a lob sided smile or corkscrew curls -  something which helps the reader recognise them when they reappear.

Charles Dickens was a genius when it came to inventing vivid details for his minor characters. I still can’t hear the word humble without remembering Uriah Heap from David Copperfield and his phrase ‘ever so humble’. Giving your minor character an irritating repetitive phrase or verbal tick is another way to help readers remember them.

Readers identify with your main characters: their loves, hates, motivations - the adventures they have. However, being playful with your minor characters can add that extra dash of spice and flavour, creating a variety of characters in your  story.

Blogging Update
I received another ‘Very Inspiring Bloggers Award’ Yeah! This was from A. Long with the following fantastic comment: You are one of the writer's who keep the blog-sphere a beautiful place and I nominate you for this Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Thank you! Thank you!

 inspiringblogger

So, as part of the conditions I’m displaying the award logo on my blog and linking it back to my nominator. A. Long: ajwrites57.blogspot.com/
Please check out my nominees – also part of the conditions for receiving the award which I'm choosing only from the  + communities I subscribe to, because I want to support the aspiring as well as the inspiring :

Adrianna Joleigh:  adriannajoleigh.com/
Alana Munro: alanamunroauthor.com/
Taylor Lavati: thecursebooks.blogspot.co.uk
BV Bharati: howtowriteagreatnovel.blogspot.in/
Christine Campbell: Christine Campbell
Glendon Perkins: Glendon Perkins Blogger.
Carson Craig: CarsonCraig.com
Lois Xenakis: Lois Xenakis
Vashti Q: Vashti's Blog
Phil Simkin: 1455bookcompany
Buzz Malone:buzzmalone.blogspot.com/ 
Stephanie Weisend: Buzz
 
Well done everybody!
(P.S. Apologies if the links all look different - and if they don't work, please look them up! Yes, technically challenged is my only excuse...) 

Today’s Haiku
RESTAURANT HAIKU:
children’s sopranos
cutlery percussion lace
parental chitchat

(From 'Gold Dragon Haiku')

Reading Recommendations:

http//amzn.to/18SbSaG   Gold Dragon Haiku - my first attempt at publishing poetry. 

Join me on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku

To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.



8 comments:

  1. I just found your website, and I really enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing. I especially liked what you said about flat characters having a unique defining characteristic they are repetedly described as having. It's not something that I've done before, but after reading this I'm going to implement the technique.

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    1. Thank you, Cindy, for your positive comments and glad to be of help. If you have any questions about writing that I can help with, please email me at writerssurgery@gmail.com.

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  2. Teagan, thanks for linking back to my blog, I appreciate it! Congratulations to all your nominees!

    Aspects of a Novel is a book I go back to from time to time to get a fresh view of novel reading and writing. In his conclusion, he scoffs at the notion of the novel being made obsolete by "the cinema". I think Forster would be excited about the future of the novel and of story if he were alive today. More and more ordinary people are taking up writing and story-telling like never before with places like G+! Hooray for Forster and for all the new writers in the new era of novel writing!

    Looking forward to your next round of insights, Teagan!

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    1. Thank you so much! What is it they say? What goes around, comes around!
      I agree with you - the internet and digital publishing have leveled the playing field giving great opportunities to so many writers. I guess it's up to us demonstrate we can deliver the goods!

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  3. interesting. IN all my years of teaching writing I somehow missed that Forster book.

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    1. Probably not too surprising, Sandra, when you consider that there are so many excellent books around about writing. 'Aspects of a Novel' was first published in 1927 - although the good news is that it's now available from Amazon but not yet on Kindle!

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  4. Congratulations Teagan! You are a very inspiring person. Thank you very much for this honor. Congratulations to all the nominees as well.

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