It is a common misconception that giving birth is the final act brought forth by a woman’s labor; a myriad of agony of the highest order, ribbons of blood and piercing screams of life. This physical birth is really just a transition –a portal that physically separates you from your mother. Your real birth begins in the mind. It is an idea—a beginning that could have had it roots years before your physical arrival. For your mother, the idea could have been birthed, even when she was a child.
Thus in the same way that your mental birth precedes your physical manifestation, so too does the emergence of a character, precede its display onto the page. It all starts off with an idea—a concept—a story of creation. That’s why all stories are identical to the original creation story found in Genesis—the idea that life was thought of—before it was spoken into existence. And just like the need to create was brought forth by a desire to fill the void, so you create to fill something within your person,
This is why storytelling is so essential to the human experience. It is our ceaseless desire to fill the world of a void that seems endless in its perpetuity that inspires us to keep creating. And what we love to create most is ourselves. Even the stories of animals or the gods above are filled with mirrored reflections of humanity; our own story is what fascinates us—so when we write a story, whether through fiction, poetry, or short story, we are really giving birth to our interpretation of humanity.
The great thing about that is just like there are really no two people that are completely alike, there are really no two characters (if originally birthed from an author’s mind) that are absolutely identical. Of course, having said that, it is important to also remember that in real life there is no one person that is singularly an absolute opposite from all forms of the human race; there is a commonality to us all.
So the bigger challenge for the storyteller/ writer is how to craft a being—a character—that will impact and even move people. How do you write—in essence—the perfect character? The first thing is to discard any notions of perfection. Not a single person has ever been able to show me a real life example of perfection and honestly I couldn’t even tell you what it means. Also significant is to discard notions of pure originality. Nothing is original under the sun; if you come up with something no one has ever heard of, it just means that someone prior didn’t have the audacity to see it through. The thing that makes us special as people is not our originality but our commonality; hence why you respond strongest to things that you most relate to. This does not mean that you should be redundant; redundancy is boring. Rather you should tap into your unique approach in effective communication.
Unique and originality should not be interchangeable; our uniqueness is a result of the distinctive factors working in combination to make you—you. Because we are unique, what is born from our minds should necessarily be unique. You may have the proverbial the good, the bad, and the ugly types of characters—but they will display those characteristics in their own fashion. They should also have their own story. I can’t speak for every writer but I know for me, for everything that I write down, there are a thousand other things that I don’t. It is in fact the things that I don’t say, and never intend on saying, that impacts the stories greatest. Just like there are things within your person that you may or may not be aware of that are actually impacting how you go through life. These are the things that no one ever knows.
The final part of crafting a being from an idea comes from speaking what is truest to yourself. I don’t mean autobiography, but what I do mean is personal truth. It is something that goes beyond morals—but touches upon the things that engage you the most. It is when you are truest to yourself that you can connect with other beings. This rings true even for fiction that is purely fantastical or deals with non-humans. Take for instance the Twilight series. Although dealing with supposed vampires—even the transformation of a human to a vampire—i.e. Bella—the story still touches upon the fundamentals of the human experience. This is one thing all good stories share in common. Digging down to the essentials—bearing fruit to the idea birthed in your mind long ago—that is the true art of being human.