Thinkin’ on Thursday: Your MC’s Intellectual, Psychological and Emotional Impact

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

Today, I’m thinking about the impact of minor characters on my Main Character (MC). And MC’s impact on others. How do characters inter‑relate? What do they glean from each other, both good and bad? What do they offer to each other?

I had lunch the other day with six of my former debate students from years and years ago. We’d gotten together a few times in the past, but had missed doing so for the last five years. In or near their 30’s now, two of them are working in law offices. Both are basically fulfilling the roles of paralegals, one having had some outside training, the other being taught by her company. One will finish her B.S. this year at the U of U, then begin applying for law school. The other, currently being “trained” by her work place, will get as much training as possible which is offered at her work, and will then go back to school. Both of them are the main support of their two children.

One of the others, having worked years ago with the Utah State Legislature, has a good, solid and responsible job, but also plans on returning to school, has one child and is currently separated from her husband.

Another quit a lucrative and responsible workplace for a “better job” recently: she has become a stay‑at‑home mom. Another, after an LDS mission, and a stint with the military has separated from his wife, works in a law‑involved field, but lives close to and sees his two children often.

What was I seeing from all of them? Shades and shadows of how their debating experience had influenced their interest in world‑wide affairs, their willingness to put themselves “out there” and live a challenging, sometimes difficult, but often rewarding, life. All, without exception, were actively engaged in their own lives. They were still looking forward, still planning “what comes next,” still curious, and still actively involved.

As writers, we need to be the same: curious, involved, active, with wide interests and involvement in the “job” at hand, whether at home, at work, in our writing, in our characters. Take a look at how all your characters — especially the main characters — are influenced by their friends, their enemies, their interests, the actions and reactions of the people around them.

When people are this involved in their own lives, they are influenced intellectually, psychologically and emotionally. All these aspects of your characters will make them feel real, sound real, act in authentic ways. Look at how your antagonist impacts your MC. In one story, that influence may be highly emotional. In another, it may be mostly psychological. Or it may be an intellectual impact. All three may even be evident in the same story, though not necessarily at the same time.

All of these will make your characters more “real.” Your readers will connect with these “real” human beings more quickly, more deeply . . . because readers are influenced in that way by THEIR friends . . . and seeming “enemies” . . . too.

See you next for Spellbinder Saturday!

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