When you think about your friends and family what pops into your mind?
Is it their clothes? Their job? Their abs?
Or is it the thousands of hours you’ve spent together where they’ve gone out of their way for you… or didn’t.
For me, people are defined by four things:
1. How they treat other people.
2. Their dreams and passions.
3. Their environment (people, places, & things that surround them.)
4. Their career.
You may disagree with my order here, but it’s an important lesson to learn how other people see you. To learn how to define yourself. First and foremost, it’s how you treat others. I think that’s pretty hard to argue, yet we spend an awful lot of time trying to define ourselves with the latter two. As a professional writer, treating people with respect and love should be a higher priority for you than to be a great writer.
Now, apply that to the characters you write.
How often do we try to define our characters using career or environment? Those are just facts, paper definitions. They don’t tell you anything about a person.
Instead, write characters that are defined by their decisions, by the way they treat others, by what they do when faced with adversity. This is how we get unique, well-defined characters.
[This is a slightly tweaked version of a post from November 2, 2011]