Reason and result
Published 5 years ago
Adding details to the narrative
The devil is in the details, someone said. As is God, heaven, hell and everything inbetween. Adding details to your story is the best way to enrich it and in that spirit, detailed characters tend to do even better.
When creating a character with human or superior intellect, I tend to pile up his reason to be and in Ologon: Edlen's Wrath, this was no different. Gone are the days when one could put a tag of "evil villain" in a character and think this would be enough for the storytelling enthusiasts. Evil needs a reason to be evil. Think about it, almost every evil person on the history of mankind had a reason to be evil, terrible reasons most of the time, but reasons still. Some of them even genuinely thought they were the good side all the time. And to understand why, we need to look at the "reason" behind this, because the "evil villain" is not the entirety of the character, but the result of a construction.
Take Albert Sanguine II as example. He is our main villain in Ologon: Edlen's Wrath. He asked for your help to conquer the entire galaxy, then backstabbed you leaving you to die and after you survive, he does everything to kill you. On the surface, we have a treacherous man who would do anything to get what he wants and will stop at nothing to get it. Ok, there we have it, a layer. But unless you're ok with your character having the emotional depth of a 90's action movie (which is completely fine if that was your goal all along), you'll need more than that. So Sanguine is treacherous, why? What would have made a man betray his best friend? And why did he want that much to conquer the entire galaxy? Answering those questions creates the cornerstone for one more layer. Well, he was treacherous because he never trully trusted anyone in his life since his parents died. And his best friend was almost as powerful as him, if they both were to fight fair and square, the chance of Sanguine losing would be too big, he couldn't accept that, he plays only to win. He always had the dream of unifying the galaxy, a dream that eventually became obsession. There you have it, your second layer. It did answer the questions of the first layer, but also generated a few extra bits of information about the character (his parents died, he plays to win, obsession...) and by exploring those extra bits, a third layer can be created. His parents died on a separatist terrorist attack. He was born on high royalty during times of conflict, which made him used to games of power, scheme and overall betrayal. But despite all, he was a good kid and had this dream of unifying everyone to end all wars. The dream became corrupted into an obsession when his parents died in front of him and the good kid changed forever on that moment. With this, the third layer is formed. We could go on for more, but I think this is enough to state my point.
Look at all the info generated by going deep into a single character, there's enough to start thinking on a book about his life. The deeper you go, you create more content and your character becomes closer to a real human being. Another great reason to invest like that on your characters is that you, as the creator, will know more about then and will avoid write yourself into a corner. You will know what choice the character will do on a moral choice for example, you will be able to keep some logical pattern on his thinking if you suddenly need to write a follow-up of his story, instead of flipping a coin (and probably ensuing madness in the process).
Now imagine all the subplots you can generate when you take this level of care with other characters as well. At first it looks hard (and it is), but the more you do, the easier it becomes, because one or more characters helps to fill the blanks on another. Sometimes a part of their relationship is already explained on one of them and now all you need is to add the other side of the same story. The really hard part is keeping tabs on everyone (take notes of everything, they save your life), but by doing all this, you eventually create an universe you will feel proud about. I know I am.
-Eduardo "Garland" Mello, Lead Writer @ Young Mind Studio
Pedro Dalcin