Friday, December 16, 2016

5 Ways of Presenting Character: Character as Thought

Another way to present your character to the reader is through his/her thoughts. Get inside your character's head and reveal what s/he hides from the world. A character's thoughts can reveal his/her desire. It is through The Ghost's thoughts that the reader learns of his new life plan in the beginning of The Ghost in Exile

The Ghost had long ago earned his place in the seven hells. Now, he must embrace the fact that he had one skill and one purpose—to kill those who needed to die. For a brief time he’d tried to forget that, and because he hesitated to kill a monster, the man had nearly destroyed his homeland and his daughter. Some people’s deaths were a thing to be celebrated rather than mourned, and because he was forever tainted, forever a killer, he should be the one to kill them. 

Just as Samantha's thoughts tell the reader of her far less bloody desire when the reader is introduced to her in The Goddess's Choice:

The Princess Samantha sat at her dressing table and glowered at her reflection as her maids dressed her hair. She detested balls and loathed the hundreds of suitors who flocked around her, spouting empty flattery: “I have never seen a lovelier flower, Your Highness!” or “Your eyes rival the brilliance of the stars, Your Highness!” If I hear that one again, I’ll vomit. It wouldn’t be quite so bad if even one of them meant it. Sometimes she wished . . . . She pushed the thought away. She was the heir to the throne. She couldn’t expect romance.

People often do not tell anyone their deepest desires. Still, less do they reveal their strongest fears. When Samantha discovers that her ability to see auras means she is not the king’s true heir, she keeps those fears to herself:

Hours later, Samantha put down the last volume. She had no doubts. Although the books disagreed on some minor aspects of an aurora’s power, it was “universally agreed upon” that she was a bastard. This was much, much worse than being mad. Her mother was little better than a whore, and she wasn’t the heir. She was a fraud, an imposter, some foundling foisted on the king without his knowledge. She wanted to scream, tear the books to pieces, and dissolve into a flood of tears, but she was too devastated even to move.

My poor father! This will kill him! She didn’t know how many times Solar had told her of his long wait for an heir. He’d insisted if he had died without one, competing claimants would tear Korthlundia apart. My father worked his entire life to prevent this, and I have failed him. Who knows how many thousands will die because of me?

While thoughts give the reader a peek into the character’s mind, for those thoughts to become reveal, they must eventually be translated into action. After stewing about her bastardry for some time, Samantha takes action:

She certainly needed men loyal to her. She picked up a quill and dipped it in ink. On a sheet of paper, she wrote the names of the four men whose auras she’d seen—Phelan, Brice, Bearach, and Conroy. She called Darhour and handed him the paper. “Add these to my guard.”

These men, like Kailen and Darhour, would loyally serve a bastard; she wished she knew if she were damning herself by allowing them to do so.

While thoughts can tell us much about a character, it is what they do that ultimately reveals who they are.