The Author's Mirror | Teen Ink

The Author's Mirror

February 12, 2009
By Anonymous

The experienced author must take a broad range of literary elements into consideration when composing a written work. The scope of literature stretches infinitely over hundreds of different genres and forms, whether it be prose, poetry, or play. Fictional works, comprising a sizeable portion of the total literary media that exists today, themselves possess more elements than can ever be fully explored: themes, symbols and motifs, plots structure, figurative language, and far more. However, one of the most important pieces involved in fictional works is the development of characters. While fiction can exist without extended metaphors, thematic undertones, or a complex plot, it cannot exist without characters to drive its story onward. As far as literature written to simply entertain is concerned, the characters are easily the most influential part of the work.

While a character's potential personality and effects on a story are completely unlimited, a character must still match his or her role within the story. Authors must develop each of their characters, or at least each of their main ones, based on that character's role in the plot. The people in a story act as direct representatives of their universe and the concepts behind it; fitting specific personalities to specific roles can be used to impart powerful themes to the reader. Also, whether a character is dynamic (changing) or static (unchanging) is just as important. The heart of a good story lies in the development that the characters experience. For example, if the protagonist of a novel doesn't grow, or perhaps even fall, somehow, the story will easily lack meaning for the reader and thus feeling shallow and boring.

Furthermore, the believability of characters in a work of literature can greatly enhance the story. In order to forge realistic personalities, the writer must draw from reality, often finding ideas in either himself or in others around him. In doing so the author has the opportunity to make connections between real life and his work and indirectly make powerful statements about the world he observes. An author can say even more through the strength and weaknesses of his characters, but he must be careful to balance talents with flaws. This balance varies depending on the type of character and his role, but, if it is implemented carefully, the author can create characters believable enough to reflect humanity and give the writer a chance to comment on the nature of mankind. In this manner, the author's power knows no bounds.

On another level, the depth of a character can involve the reader in the story in ways that other elements of the piece can not. Often the exploration of specific traits within characters can make them appear far more human. By creating detailed personalities, an author can offer insight into his characters' natures, thus making the characters more compelling to the reader; deeper, more intriguing personalities are more likely to draw the reader into the story than less deep, less detailed ones. The more human and life-like a character is, the more relatable that person is to the reader who follows his story. Subsequently, when readers can understand and relate to characters, they become more emotionally invested in the characters and their story. Good authors know how to capture their reader's emotions and use them to give the reader a wholly enjoyable experience with their literature.

Although the composition of literature involves many elements which should not be neglected, the careful development of characters often proves most crucial to the strength of the work. The believability and depth of a character is a reflection of the entire work, and, because the characters are who the reader identifies with, the author can create and use his characters to speak an unlimited number of concepts to the reader. In the case of fictional literature, at least that which exists to the entertain, the quality of the work is heavily dependant on what and how much the author pours into his characters; when readers find people in literature who reflect familiar elements of real life and display depth of thought and nature, the readers' minds and imaginations are opened to embrace the fictional realm and fully absorb and enjoy all that the author has to offer them.

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