The Depth of a Character

As a writer, I create characters. Sometimes it starts with a name and other times a habit or quirk drives the creation forward. But always – always – the character must have depth, otherwise they’re nothing more than cartoon cutouts and useless in my story.

I’m working on fleshing out a new character and he’s a less than agreeable man. In fact, he’s the kind of guy that if you saw on a street corner in the grocery store you’d move away from. He’s smelly. He’s not nice. He’s obsessive. As I decided all these things I knew I had to add one more ingredient in the mix to make him complete and believable. Even Silas had to have a redeeming quality or characteristic. But what was it?

Digging deeper into his persona I knew I’d find it eventually. That’s when the truth smacked me between the eyes. Its that way in real life, too. Just about every soul on this planet has something good about them. They love their mom. They take care of abandoned kittens. They drop a quarter in the donation cup to help children in need.

All too often, we only see the truths the person allows us to see, or those we’re conditioned to see. What if we dug deeper and let ourselves get closer to the old crudmudgeon in the grocery store. We might discover his tale is one we can relate to. Perhaps all he needs is a friendly voice saying hello, or a smile tossed his direction.

Let’s all start to look at the depth of a stranger’s character. Let’s be kinder. Let’s be more compassionate. Let’s start today.


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