Even suspense novelists understand it's not all about the plot. Me included.
The question is how can I create memorable characters who are multi-dimensional right out of the box. Characters who respond and act in a consistent manner based on who they are at their core—behind their masks.
On the recommendation of some multi-published suspense novelists, I purchased a DVD series by Michael Hauge (author of Writing Screenplays That Sell) and Christopher Vogler (author of The Writer's Journey).
The Hero's 2 Journeys is available directly from the makers, and right now the DVD version is on sale. I'm a visual learner (even though we're talking a static camera in a classroom setting), so that was important to me. The course is also available on CD.
Let's pretend I'm developing a central figure in a walloping good story. To make my protagonist an interesting character, someone worthy of a reader investing their time and hopes in, that character must have experienced a wound.
And the wound needs to have been inflicted prior to the opening sentence of the story.
A wound can be one catastrophic event (death, rape, loss) or it can be something endured over time (bad foster homes, belittling, incest).
For protection, my character will create an identity for themselves that keeps them safe. An identity that they hold on to up until the Point of No Return. A mask that must be ripped off in order for them to be fully realized. An exterior facade that must be killed in order for them to go from Identity to Essence.
This process goes hand-in-hand with the outer journey of your hero.
If you're feeling the need to take your character awareness to the next step, this is a series you want to check into.
CR: Deception by Randy Alcorn.
It's all better with friends.