When I first started writing Awakening, I knew almost nothing about character design, growth or story arcs. All I knew was that I wanted to make my characters special and as unique as possible. I wanted to avoid having all of my characters be the same in terms of personality, motivation and ability.
For example, Character One, who we will call Carlos, is a happy farmer who is called upon to slay a local dragon due to a hilarious misunderstanding. Character Two, who we will call Francesco, is friends with Carlos and lives in the same village. He decides to help Carlos slay the dragon because he is a great friend.
Carlos and Francesco therefore have very similar characters and motivations, which makes them less memorable to the reader.
Instead, let us make Carlos an idiot who is manipulated into fighting a dragon by Francesco, a wandering dragon hunter who finds simple minded peasants to act as meat-shields.
Immediately Carlos and Francesco become unique entities, and they are able to have distinct character arcs (Carlos overcoming his naïveté and Francesco learning to value people other than himself).
With Awakening, I have Barsch (stubborn youth), Alza (mysterious, cold), Kingston (suspicious, independent) and Maloch (loyal, conflicted). Four unique characters, four character arcs.
All four complement the others, while not being clones of them.
All four have their own unique strengths and weaknesses which the others complement or expose.
Thus, complementary characters.
Thanks for listening, the next tip is “Damsels in Distress”, look forward to it!
And remember, Never Lose Your Stride!