Character Engagement

When an author speaks about character engagement, he/she writes to involve the reader in the motivations and actions that a character carries out. For the best interaction, a writer must craft a satisfying measure of character, if the goal––which is story––is to be enjoyed and believed, but such an exchange is not always as satisfying as it could be without the development of strong characters that engage the emotional senses of the reader. But how does one paint a strong three-dimensional character?

I didn’t invent the world I write about––it’s all true. Graham Greene

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I structure my characters, believing that they are real. Real human beings that face difficult human struggles. I write to review, review and then re-write each scene, delving deeper and deeper, peeling back internal and external layers like the skin of an onion, until every character trait lies naked on the computer screen. I not only consider personal motivations, but also subsequent behaviour actions. What happens in real life circumstances that may add conflict, and perhaps affect my plot?

Books without knowledge of life are useless. Ben Jonson

Shelley Kassian walking along the White Water Walk (Photo by Shelley Kassian)
Shelley Kassian walking along the White Water Walk (Photo by Shelley Kassian)

I live my life to experience everything that life has to offer, both good and bad, and then I draw upon the memories that compel dialogue. In this way, I hope to connect to the reader, who may have experienced similar situations. E.g.: What considerations make me happy (chocolate, money, music, health, travel), scared (night, danger, conflict), laugh (joke, situation), or cry (disappointment, pain, death). When an author delves into the living motivations of their character, and considers how fear of danger might affect them when placed in say, a forest, at night, and alone––they soon can see how the heroine might react in any given situation.

You can write about anything, and if you write well enough even the reader with no intrinsic interest in the subject will become involved. Tracy Kidder


I begin with a black and white character sketch that a writer might define as a shadow image, but the goal of a writer is to add colour to the character, enabling a hero and heroine to spring to life from the printed page. This can only happen if the character is given real-life human motivations with action. I hope, I have achieved this goal in my current and future works.

The Scarlett Mark: A MedEvil Romantasy
The Scarlett Mark: A MedEvil Romantasy

Published by shelleykassian

Shelley Kassian is a multi-published author and storyteller, who romances readers with her contemporary, historical, and fantasy novels.

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