Divergent by Veronica Roth is amazing. I just read Insurgent, the sequel, and that was awesome. And Allegiant, the coming third book, is promising to be spectacular. And… reading really good books can help your writing if you look closely.
I think the most prominent theme in the book was bravery and fears. The Dauntless, one of the Five Factions that divide the people in the dystopian society, has citizens who promote bravery above everything else. Fears is frowned upon. The less fear you have, the better a person you are. And to test the Dauntless, there was a serum that put the person into a simulated environment that would test their fears.
Which begs the question. What am I afraid of? If I was put in a fear simulation, what would I have to face? It was an interesting thing to ponder when I was supposed to be asleep (let’s face it, thinking about your psychological make-up wins out over elusive sleep every time.)
And then the next thought came to me. How do my fears affect me? How does they change me? For instance, I’m afraid of embarrassing myself. As a result, I’m very competitive.
What I am trying to say is (finally) “What are your characters afraid of?” (Phew. That wasn’t so hard.)
Fears affect personality, and change outlook, and give us different motivations. And it’s only natural, I mean, it’s human nature to be afraid. So your characters will be, too. (Providing, of course, that they’re human.)
A huge part of personality development is finding out what your character is afraid of and how that affects them. I didn’t think about it until a few days ago. So I’ll compare two of my most recent characters, both written before I had this interesting revelation.