Hidden Depths, or why no one is who they seem to be

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Now if only the masks we wore in public were this literal

If you wanna find out what’s behind these cold eyes
You’ll just have to claw your way through this disguise

In The Flesh? Pink Floyd, The Wall

Here’s a question for you: If you compared someone you got to know really well to when you met them, would you say acted the same way? Or do you act the same way in public that you do in private (ignoring bedroom shenanigans)? My answer to both is no, and my point is, when you get to know somebody you uncover a whole different side to them, the side that they don’t show the world. This is what I’m referring to when I talk about hidden depths.

Characters should be like that. Having a side that they hide from the world, but comes out in private, or in moments of extreme duress. After all, characters should not be simple automatons used to tell a story, as I have pointed out previously. They should seem like real people, with real issues, real emotions, and real depth.

Explain why the hidden depths are hidden

Of course, there has to be a reason why they’re hiding this dark side. An example that I created in three minutes of thinking is a character lives in a dog-eat-dog world, where any sign of weakness could get you killed, but se hates the constant violence and killing around her, even though she has to participate in it. She might have to hide that side of herself,  or else she could wind up dead, and those around her may be surprised if she ever shows frustration with the constant need for violence and a hard-edged persona.

Another effective way to apply hidden depths is to go with the negative character development idea I posted yesterday. Maybe a character has been wronged consistently, and seems to be giving into cynicism, but deep down they’re still as warm and kind-hearted as ever, and just waiting for the right person to crack their shell of brutal cynicism.

Another example, just for demonstrative purposes, My character, Cho, is very cold to strangers and those she doesn’t like, but to those she likes, she shows a genuinely warm side, which is actually another mask for the pain no one sees, except in short bursts when she can’t hold it in any longer, and she is far from unusual in this. Another character uses a facade of upbeat happiness to hide her pain and anger (over what I’m not quite sure yet, but she seems to respond badly to people standing aside when others need help).

Also, you’ll notice the quote at the top of the page. From now on, I’ll be using relevent quotes at the top of articles if I can think of any that would sum up or add to the article.

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