Saturday, 16 May 2015

No More 2D Characters

We all know that readers expect - and deserve - characters that are fully developed and credible.  This has been made all the more important by the accessibility of world news.  We can see what is going on around the globe, almost in real time, from the tv, our computers and our smart phones.  People's lives are played out on the screens in front of us.
At one time we would have no idea what people were like in different parts of the world.  Now, thanks to the immediacy of news and social media, we are learning more about the people of the world every day.
I hadn't really thought about this until a few weeks ago.  I was visiting Edinburgh Castle and was in the National War Museum.  As you can imagine, this charts the many conflicts that Scotland has been involved in over the generations - from the invasion of the English to Scotland's contribution to the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At the start of my tour through the museum, war was portrayed as gallant and honourable.  Even as recent as World War Two, the reality of war was hidden.  Then I got to a photographic exhibition called Return To Helmand.
The power of one picture in particular has stayed with me.  It showed a group of about a dozen young soldiers.  A few were in uniform.  Most were in t-shirts and had dirty faces.  None were smiling.  All wore expressions of those who had seen and experienced things that no-one should have to endure.
Those young men and women were our children.
Now, this piece is not about the rights and wrongs or war, it's about character.  The reporting of conflicts brings us closer to the participants.  It reveals character.
As writers, we owe it to our readers to capture this character and develop it in the stories we produce.

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